Videoconferencing helps save lives of stroke victims

A new out-of-hours remote diagnosis service provides faster, more effective treatment for stroke patients at any time – day or night.

Videoconferencing isn’t new – it’s been around for years. But smart ways of using this technology by one hospital in the UK can help save the lives of stroke victims. NHS Surrey has trialled a high-definition (HD) video conferencing service, which allows stroke patients in hospital to be remotely diagnosed out-of-hours by consultants working from home.

In the past, a limited number of on-call specialists would have to travel between hospitals to assess patients. This could waste time when the best chance of recovery from a stroke is to be diagnosed and treated within four hours.

That’s why NHS Surrey decided to see how videoconferencing technology could provide an answer.

Videoconferencing service was successfully introduced at the Royal Surrey County Hospital. Now it uses two video conferencing units at each of the region’s five hospitals: one in the accident and emergency department, and the other in the stroke unit to enable patient monitoring. These units are then connected to consultants at their home via a secure broadband connection.

Adrian Blight, lead consultant for stroke medicine at the Royal Surrey County Hospital, who was instrumental in developing the service, said:

“I can review scans and test results online, see and communicate with the patient over the high definition video link and speak face-to-face with the onsite medical team and worried family members – all without leaving my home office. Being able to assess patients more rapidly and prescribe the right treatment saves lives and improves the chance of full recovery.”

During the first few months the videoconferencing service has been used 50 times allowing Adrian to be at his patient’s side even though he was at home 20 miles away.

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