Telestroke programs, by expanding coverage to less populated areas, improved access to life-saving stroke care in Oregon by about 40%, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine.
Considering all hospitals in Oregon, the study found that 43% of the population could reach a stroke center in person within one hour, 76% had telemedical access to stroke care, 40% had access to both and 20% had no access to stroke care within a 60-minute radius. These findings were compared with those from previous research
, which indicated that 45% of Americans—or 135 million people—were more than an hour from a stroke-care facility. But now, because of a combination of in-person and telemedical care, almost 80% of residents have stroke care within an hour of their location.
“Telestroke programs can reach patients in smaller communities and provide time-critical treatment to previously unreached people,” Dr. Brendan Carr, senior study author and assistant professor of emergency medicine, surgery and epidemiology at Perelman, said in a release
. “Increasing telestroke networks gives everyone a better chance of surviving a stroke, the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.”
While in-person stroke care tends to be concentrated in urban areas, telestroke care can also reach destinations with smaller populations. The Penn NeuroRescue program through Penn Medicine uses telemedicine systems to provide expert stroke care to patients in distant and remote locations.
The study was paid for by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.