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On-Demand Telemedicine Saves Lives and Saves �30K Per Patient

May 17, 2013 | Telepresence Options

Polycom Realpresence

Polycom, Inc, leader in open standards-based unified communications (UC&C) has announced the immense success of the NHS Cumbria & Lancashire Cardiac and Stroke Network (CSNLC) in its first year-and-a-half of providing 24�7 access to thrombolysis treatment from remote specialists.

The telestroke network serves eight hospitals that in turn serve 2.2 million people spread over 3,500m�. For this extensive population and extended rural area, 16 consultants are able to deliver 24/7 thrombolysis treatment to patients with acute ischaemic stroke. The reason such a small number of consultants can serve such a large rural population is telemedicine, powered by Polycom� RealPresence� video solutions. Working with Polycom partner MultiSense Communications, each hospital site is equipped with a telestroke solution that includes Polycom� Practitioner Carts� and their mobile HD video in the hospitals, and Polycom� CMA� Desktop video collaboration software installed on the clinician's home PC.

Over 520 patients in Cumbria and Lancashire have benefited from the telestroke service since its launch in July 2011, with over 220 of those patients receiving thrombolysis. Patients and their family members appreciate the benefits of the new technology. One called the Polycom Practitioner Cart a "fabulous piece of equipment." "Three cheers for technology," said another; "the doctor on the screen was a very professional man and no doubt saved us vital minutes with his consultation."

A third patient described her life-saving treatment experience in more detail: "The doctor appeared on the screen, introduced himself and talked about my CT results with the doctor who was in the room with me. He talked to me from the screen, asking me to try different movements, then the doctors talked about the amount I'd need and how it should be given to me. I feel incredibly lucky - the treatment I had doesn't work for everyone, and it has to be given within a really short time after the stroke. I would still be in hospital now if I hadn't had it."

Doctors appreciate the new technology as well. The telestroke service frees up time for doctors in busy A&E departments who now have on-demand access to a stroke physician for bedside consultations. The service also reduces the workload of on-call radiologists, because now they're called in only if an expert opinion is required. In addition to improving care for patients, improving coverage and work-life balance for physicians, and saving lives, the telestroke service has also reduced the NHS costs associated with dependent stroke care by approximately �30,000 per patient.

"There was a need to have a technology available to us where we can see and assess the patient and that's where the Polycom Practitioner Carts have been extremely helpful. Based on the initial description of the patient we decide whether this patient would benefit from having a video consultation," said Dr Tahir Nasir, Consultant Stroke Physician. "Now with the Polycom video carts, while based in my own house I can assess the patients in these eight different centres. I can talk to the patients. I can examine them. The Polycom camera on the other end is a very sophisticated instrument where I can zoom and direct it in various directions."

Every year an estimated 150,000 suffer from strokes, which affect not just the elderly but children and young people as well. By providing around-the-clock access to on-demand stroke care in the time-critical early intervention stage, the Telestroke Network has not only helped save lives but also helped to prevent many patients from suffering long-term conditions resulting from strokes.

To extend the positive results of the telestroke service, the CSNLC are now incorporating the technology into other areas of care. One hospital, for example is now using the Practitioner Cart to enable visual assessments of cardiac patients. The hospital has installed network points into all of the coronary care beds where patients stay on the coronary care ward post-Thrombolysis treatment so the other hospitals within the network can provide cover for the cardiac patients in the coronary care unit if an expert opinion is required at night.

"Due to the telestroke service being in place today, more patients are alive, more patients suffer less disability, and more patients are less dependent on carers and nursing homes to provide care," said Elaine Day, Service Improvement and Development Manager, CSNLC. "The service has grown hugely, it is used for the right reasons, and we are making real differences to the patient. I'm glad that we have this service available because without it, it would be very, very difficult to see how we could have provided a 24-hour cover."

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