NeuroDirect for Stroke Diagnosis
Telemedicine serves outlying hospitals lacking 24-hour neurology coverage.
When a patient is admitted to Hillcrest, Greer Memorial or Baptist Easley hospitals with stroke symptoms under 4.5 hours’ duration, a protocol is activated that puts a neurologist at Greenville Memorial Hospital (GMH) in charge. GMH is the flagship hospital of Greenville Health System (GHS). The neurologist examines the patient interactively by webcam, reviews the patient’s CT scan and bloodwork, and determines whether the patient is eligible for tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a powerful clot-dissolving medication. The process takes about 40 minutes, saving valuable time otherwise lost in hospital transfer and providing patients with stroke expertise.
“There’s a shortage of neurologists, so our challenge was how to stretch available resources to provide effective and safe intervention for acute stroke. The answer was telemedicine,” said Mary Hughes, M.D., chair of GHS’ Division of Neurology. It is a secure, private, Internet-based program that employs a two-way audio/video system. The neurologist can see and speak with the patient, family and staff (and vice versa) as if present in the room. Neurologists find the system very effective in allowing quick and safe evaluation and treatment recommendations for patients with new stroke symptoms.
“It increases your comfort level in giving as accurate an assessment as possible in the shortest amount of time,” said Dr. Hughes, one of eight GHS neurologists sharing call. “When there is no neurologist in house, telemedicine enables us to be in two places at once,” To learn more, call the Neurology division at (864) 454-4500.