The challenge of acute-stroke management: does telemedicine offer a solution? Int J Stroke 1: 201-207

Author(s): Wu O, Langhorne P

Abstract

Background: Several studies have described successful experiences with the use of telemedicine in acute stroke. The objective of this study was to assess the feasibility, acceptability, and treatment delivery reliability, of telemedicine systems for the clinical and radiological assessment, and management of acute-stroke patients.

Summary of review: A systematic review of the literature was carried out. Studies were included if they met the following criteria: (1) study population included participants with a diagnosis of suspected acute stroke, (2) intervention included the use of telemedicine systems to aid assessment, diagnosis, or treatment in acute stroke, and (3) outcomes measured related to feasibility in clinical practice, acceptability to patients, carers, and staff, reliability of telemedicine systems, and effectiveness in delivering treatment, especially tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). Overall, 17 relevant non-randomised studies reported that telemedicine systems were feasible and acceptable. Interrater reliability was excellent for global clinical assessments and decisions on radiological exclusion criteria although agreement for individual assessment items was more variable. Telemedicine systems were associated with increased use of tPA.

Conclusion: Although there is limited reliable evidence, observational studies have indicated that telemedicine systems can be feasible, acceptable, and reliable in acute-stroke management. In addition, telemedicine consultations were associated with improved delivery of tPA.

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