SAN DIEGO — Telestroke programs substantially improve access to life-saving stroke care, extending coverage to less populated areas in an effort to reduce disparities in stroke care access. A new study by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, being presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego March 16-23, 2013, found that telemedicine programs in Oregon pushed stroke coverage into previously uncovered, less populated areas and expanded coverage by approximately 40 percent.
"Telestroke programs can reach patients in smaller communities and provide time-critical treatment to previously unreached people," said senior study author Brendan Carr, MD, MA, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Surgery, & Epidemiology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "Increasing telestroke networks gives everyone a better chance of surviving a stroke, the fourth leading cause of death in the United States."
Previous research by Dr. Carr and colleagues found that only 54.5 percent of Oregon residents could reach a stroke center by ground within 60 minutes. The new study shows that, by employing telemedical systems in concert with in-person care, nearly 80 percent of residents had access to expert stroke care within one hour.
The study evaluated all hospitals in Oregon, finding that 43 percent of the population could reach a stroke center in person within 60 minutes, 76 percent had telemedical access, 40 percent had access to both, and 20 percent had no access to stroke care within an hour.
Researchers noted that in-person stroke care was clustered in urban areas, and while telestroke care was also available in urban centers, it also reached less populated areas with low rates of uninsured.
Penn Medicine extends stroke care to patients throughout the region through the Penn NeuroRescue program, using telemedicine systems to bring expert consultations 24/7 to hospitals in distant locales (e.g. the Jersey Shore) and transferring those who need surgery and/or specialized neurointensive critical care to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), the Philadelphia region's first and only Joint Commission-certified Comprehensive Stroke Center.
The Penn Medicine Neuroscience Center’s team of neurovascular experts – from Neurology, Radiology, Neurosurgery, Vascular Surgery, Emergency Medicine and Nursing – provides quality, evidence-based care at the right level and right time, through remote diagnosis via telemedicine, onsite treatment provided at affiliated primary stroke centers, and with advanced neurosurgical or neuroradiological interventions and clinical research available at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
HUP’s stroke center was founded in 1994 and was originally designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission in 2004. In addition to the newly-achieved advanced Comprehensive Stroke Certification at HUP, Penn Medicine’s other hospitals – Pennsylvania Hospital and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center – received Primary Stroke Center certifications from The Joint Commission in the summer of 2012. This mix of Primary Stroke Centers and the advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center at HUP allows Penn Medicine to address the needs of this complex population in the Delaware Valley and throughout the region.
In addition to Dr. Carr, co-authors on the study include Penn’s Catherine S. Wolff, Rama Salhi, Anna Tommasini, and Charles Branas, Philadelphia, PA, along with colleagues Helmi Lutsep, from Oregon Health and Science University and Logan McDaneld of Grand Junction, Colo. The study was supported by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality.
Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.