MANCHESTER, NH – Catholic Medical Center introduced its one-of-a-kind TeleStroke Ambulance Program on Tuesday, with an onboard demonstration of the high-tech platform, designed to reduce the time it takes for stroke patients to begin receiving crucial care.
The system is being piloted by select ambulances with AMR, Goffstown and Peterborough Fire. Using the TeleStroke app and an iPad, EMS personnel can access expert neurologists en route to the hospital and connect them in real time via video feed with potential stroke patients, who can begin an evaluation before they arrive.
Goffstown Fire Chief Richard O’Brien said so far his ambulance crew has used the technology twice since the pilot launched two weeks ago.
“Time is damage. Every minute counts, and with this technology, we hope to reduce the time between when a patient suffers a stroke and treatment begins,” O’Brien said. “We’re hoping to see a positive outcome from this pilot program.”
In a stroke patient, 2 million nerve cells die per minute, says Dr. Nima Mowzoon,TeleSpecialists CEO, who developed the system.
“Assessing patients as quickly as possible is vital in the treatment of those experiencing stroke-like symptoms,” said Mowzoon. “Once we receive the call, we can have a neurologist on screen, or in this case a tablet, evaluating a patient within minutes. Now that we have access to patients in ambulances, this critical evaluation period can take place even faster.”
This is the first program of its kind including the technology in ambulances in the Northeast, according to Mowzoon. The system is a low-cost solution to improving patient outcomes – for about $3,000, CMC licensed the software and paid for clips to affix them inside the ambulances using tablets already utilized by the ambulance services.
The first 60 minutes after someone exhibiting stroke symptoms arrives at the hospital are referred to as the “golden hour,” when appropriate treatment like the “clot-busting” TPA therapy, can limit the side effects and potential damage of a stroke. Beginning the neurological assessment on the ambulance shortens the time it takes to get that patient brain-saving treatment.
With the TeleStroke Ambulance Program, as EMS transport a probable stroke patient to Catholic Medical Center, a TeleSpecialists Neurologist can beam into the tablet and begin a neurological assessment, alerting Catholic Medical Center of its data before reaching the hospital. Once the patient is admitted, the same neurologist can also have continued access to the patient, ensuring appropriate, uninterrupted care.
“This program has the potential to further move cutting edge emergency care into our ambulances,” said Chief for New Hampshire Fire & EMS Strategy and Planning Nick Mercuri, MHA, NRP, RN. “This technology can make a big difference for our patients and communities, especially those that are a considerable distance from a facility that offers advanced stroke care.”
Local ambulance company AMR, Goffstown Fire, and Peterborough Fire are currently participating in the TeleStroke Ambulance Program, with expansion planned to include Hooksett and CarePlus. The program builds off of CMC’s existing relationship with TeleSpecialists for TeleStroke and TeleNeurology services, which harness telemedicine technology to give patients expert care close to home.