If you or somebody you love suffers a stroke, getting immediate medical attention is paramount, as a quick response dramatically improves the rates of survival and recovery. But for those living in our rural communities, specialty care can be far away. To help connect rural patients with the care they need, Providence Health & Services operates telestroke networks, connecting community hospitals with the resources of its larger facilities.
Through the program, patients in community hospitals are able to virtually see a neurologist in cities such as Spokane, Olympia and Portland using specially designed video conference technology that includes robotic cameras, allowing for better interaction with patients and for life-saving treatment to be given faster.
Providers are then able to evaluate patients and consult on diagnosis, treatment or transfer. When patients need to be transferred to the larger facility, the network also makes the patient experience more seamless and cost effective. The service is offered 24/7, and providers can meet with a patient anywhere they have wireless Internet access.
Telemedicine has obvious benefits in rural communities, where large physical distances can separate residents from specialty care. The application of telemedicine to stroke care is especially helpful given the timeliness in which treatment is needed. In Washington State as well as our neighbors in Idaho and Oregon, Providence’s Telestroke program keeps our communities safer and makes for an easier recovery following strokes.
Click here to learn more about the Eastern Washington Telestroke Network, and click here to see the program in action in a news story by KSPS. (Tim Pfarr)