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Saving time and expanding access with telestroke services

Breakout: When minutes matter most: Extending clinical capacity and stroke program reach

Saving time and expanding access with telestroke services

Matt Schooler, MEd, Senior Director, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine and Neurosciences Institutes, Novant Health

Russell Starkey, MBA, Network Director of Neuroscience Operations, Hackensack Meridian

Telestroke services have broken the link between patients’ proximity to a neurologist and their ability to get expert care in an emergency. At Forum 2023, speakers from Hackensack Meridien Health and Novant Health each described how telestroke services have helped their patient populations and health systems’ competitiveness.

By reducing the influence of geography on outcomes, telestroke services have provided some of the best examples of how virtual care can improve patient care. Telestroke programs can also enable health systems to expand the geographic area where they offer neurological care without sacrificing time-to-treatment or having to staff remote locations.

The combination of a virtual care program and access to neurology specialists through Adjacent Health, a physician services organization, provided Novant Health with the neurology coverage needed to expand. The system has 15 inpatient and 831 outpatient locations in North Carolina and South Carolina. By using the Teladoc Health virtual care platform plus physicians from Adjacent, Novant Health can have a neurologist ready to connect with the patient and care team within seconds.

“We’ve been able to really expand our relationships in the communities where haven’t been in previous years,” says Matt Schooler, MEd, Senior Director, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine and Neurosciences Institutes at Novant Health. “Having a good partner in both of those companies really helped us take the teleneurology care that’s needed in rural communities into different places.”

Telestroke care is helping Hackensack Meridian Health System with a different kind of expansion—an expanding population of aging patients. The neurologist shortage was a major motivator for the system’s decision to augment its neurological care with virtual access to additional specialists.

Hackensack Meridian is New Jersey’s largest health system. Its clinicians and other staff collaborate virtually with neurologists from Adjacent Health through Teladoc Health’s virtual care platform to provide timely, responsive care to stroke and other neurology patients.

Hackensack Meridian completes an average of 270 neurological consults per month through its partnership with Teladoc Health and Adjacent Health. For patients who need immediate stroke care, the average time to make a diagnostic decision is just 18 minutes, and 84% of patient tPA decisions are made in under 30 minutes. When “time is brain,” every minute saved can have a positive impact on patient outcomes and quality of life.

“We’re guaranteeing access to neurocritical care specialists,” Hackensack Meridian Network Director of Neuroscience Operations Russell Starkey said. “We wouldn’t have that if we didn’t have that partnership.”

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