The University of Virginia Health System recently conducted a study called Improving Treatment with Rapid Evaluation of Acute Stroke via Mobile Telemedicine, or iTREAT. During experimental trials, neurologists used mobile technology to examine stroke patients being transported to hospitals in ambulances. There was a strong relationship between the findings of these tests and traditional diagnosis by physicians. In fact, iTREAT results were 98 percent correlated with bedside condition evaluations of stroke patients.
Each iTREAT kit contains a tablet that attaches to an ambulance wall, along with a portable modem and antenna. This technology allows the physician, EMS provider, and patient to communicate via mobile video-conference. The EMS team and neurologist are then able to examine the patient in an efficient yet accurate manner. By identifying and treating suffering patients more immediately than if they had been evaluated in a hospital setting, iTREAT not only saves time, but also potentially prevents the debilitating effects of strokes.
In a press release from the UVA Health System, Dr. Andrew Southerland, the leader of the iTREAT team, explained the powerful implications of these trials. “Acute stroke is a very time-dependent illness…in acute ischemic stroke, if you can remove the vascular obstruction and re-vascularize the injured part of the brain in a timely way, you can potentially prevent disability and death.”
Southerland and his team hope to extend their efforts further by establishing similar studies in hospitals across the United States. The iTREAT team consists of several members of UVA’s Neurology and Emergency Medicine departments, along with members from the University’s Center for Telehealth.
“The goal of our study is to advance the assessment of acute stroke to the pre-hospital setting — to the ambulance transporting the patients to the hospital,” Southerland said.
UVA Medic V and emergency response squads from Western Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa, Buckingham, and Augusta counties also cooperated in the trials.
Neurology, a scientific journal, published the findings of iTREAT online.