Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Telemedicine helps rural hospitals use drug to prevent death and disability from strokes

Telemedicine may be a cost-effective way for rural hospitals without adequate neurology staff to gain the ability to treat stroke patients with a clot-busting drug that is little used in rural areas, a new study in the peer-reviewed journal Neurology suggests.

By comparing the costs and quality-adjusted life years of patients who were treated with telestroke, a new telemedicine technique for strokes, with those treated through standard care, researchers found "the cost of telestroke over a person's lifetime was less than $2,500 per quality-adjusted life year," WIAT-TV CBS 42 in Birmingham, Ala. reports.

Only 2 to 4 percent of stroke patients now get tPA, a clot-busting drug that can prevent death and disability if administered in the first few hours following a stroke, "with the lowest percentages in rural areas largely because there aren't enough stroke experts with experience using tPa," Jennifer J. Majersik, researcher at the University of Utah School of Medicine, said in an interview. If reimbursement rates and high equipment costs improve, "Telestroke has the potential to greatly diminish the striking disparity in stroke care for rural America," Majerik added. (Read more)

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