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Mobile Stroke Assessment Saves Crucial Time for Patients


PHOENIX/ RIO VERDE -- A new telemedicine initiative available through Mayo Clinic’s Center for Connected Care is bringing quicker access to crucial stroke treatment for patients in the Rio Verde area.

Working with the Rio Verde Fire District, Mayo Clinic’s prehospital telestroke program allows health care providers to conduct remote, real-time assessments of stroke patients before their arrival at the hospital.

Typically, stroke patients are not assessed until they arrive at the hospital. Mayo Clinic’s mobile approach will allow neurology teams to connect directly with stroke patients through telemedicine  devices mounted in the Rio Verde ambulance unit while they are in transit to the hospital. This approach eliminates critical downtime as care teams conduct patient assessment and determine the best treatment options.

 “The goal is to reduce the overall time between the onset of stroke symptoms and the delivery of emergency treatments - each minute is incredibly valuable and can save millions of brain cells,” says Bart Demaerschalk, M.D, professor of neurology, director of telestroke,  and medical director for Synchronous Services in the Center for Connected Care. “Through this technology we can assess stroke signs earlier, accelerate care decisions, and ultimately improve patient outcomes.”

The program began servicing Rio Verde on September 24 2020.

“We are excited to introduce these telemedicine capabilities in Rio Verde.” says Jay Ducote, Fire Chief for the Rio Verde Fire District. “To us, it’s important to remain innovative and provide the best patient care to all residents in our community.”


How it works

Upon recognition of stroke symptoms, emergency medical technicians will send a telestroke alert to Mayo Clinic’s Stroke Center in Arizona. This will prompt the Mayo Clinic stroke team to prep for arrival and a neurologist to connect with a specially equipped Rio Verde ambulance through a secure, HIPAA-compliant video software application for an assessment. That information is shared with the receiving stroke care team, who transition patients directly for a computerized tomography scan upon arrival. With the current infrastructure now in place, care team members look forward to the opportunities that telemedicine can offer patients.


“Telemedicine will play a huge role in delivering the kind of care our patients need,” says Shari Brand, M.D., Emergency Medicine.


The impact of improving stroke outcomes is immense. Each year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke, which remains a leading cause of long-term disability and costs the U.S. $46 billion annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Many long-term effects of stroke can be mitigated by shortening the response time for treatment and action. In a recent study conducted by Mayo Clinic, response time was reduced by an average of 11 minutes through the use of remote telemedicine for patients while in transit to the hospital for stroke symptoms.


“When it comes to stroke, a ruptured brain aneurysm or a ruptured brain AVM, early input before arrival to the hospital by a specialized neurovascular team can make all the difference including getting the patient to the right hospital,” says Bernard Bendok, M.D., chair of Neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. “Our 24/7 vascular neurosurgery and vascular neurology teams can be mobilized along with our nurses and technologist earlier to give the patient the best chance at survival and a high quality of life”


Plans are currently in place to expand the program to other municipalities in Arizona over the coming months.

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