LEBANON, NH — For someone having a stroke, minutes can make the difference between life and death. Studies have shown that prompt access to a vascular neurologist vastly reduces mortality or the long-term disabling effects of a stroke. Yet, many hospitals, particularly in rural regions, do not have a stroke specialist or are unable to provide around-the-clock stroke coverage. To address this problem, Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H), in collaboration with Mayo Clinic, has created a "telestroke" program, offering participating hospitals across New Hampshire and Vermont 24/7 access to specialists.
In telestroke care, specialists at a distance use videoconferencing technology to communicate with the emergency room team, examine the patient, interpret the brain images, confirm the diagnosis, and provide recommendations just as if they were at the bedside. This thorough evaluation determines the most-immediate and best treatment plan for that patient. Additionally, research has shown that telestroke programs improve outcomes, reduce patient risks, decrease ambulance transport, shorten hospital stays, and lower costs through more timely and accurate diagnosis.
"Telehealth is critical to creating a sustainable health system that focuses on population health, value, and payment models that reward high-quality care," said James N. Weinstein, D.O., CEO and President of Dartmouth-Hitchcock. "New technologies are making it possible for us to deliver care in ways never before imagined – giving patients the care they need close to home."
Mayo Clinic, a leader in telemedicine, will collaborate with Dartmouth-Hitchcock to provide telestroke services. "By combining the breadth and depth of our own knowledge with the expertise of our trusted partners at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, we will provide an unparalleled level of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment to patients presenting to their regional hospitals with ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke." said Bart Demaerschalk, M.D., Director of Telestroke and Teleneurology at Mayo Clinic.
Catholic Medical Center, in Manchester, NH will be the first hospital to take advantage of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Mayo Clinic telestroke program. "We chose to work with Dartmouth-Hitchcock because we are committed to providing a higher standard of care for our patients," said Dr. Joseph Pepe, President and CEO of Catholic Medical Center. "We are very proud of the stroke program we have at CMC, and now look forward to bringing the expertise of Dartmouth-Hitchcock's Center for Telehealth to our patients and the community we serve."
"Northern New England has the ideal demographics and geography to demonstrate the value of telemedicine technology to provide access to specialists when minutes count — as in stroke, trauma and other time-critical emergencies," said Sarah Pletcher, M.D., medical director of the Center for Telehealth at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. Founded in 2012, the Center for Telehealth is connecting patients and providers for clinical care, education and outreach through a variety of technology platforms. Mayo Clinic began its telestroke program in 2007. Since that time, more than 4,000 consultations for neurological emergencies like stroke between Mayo neurologists and physicians at the spoke centers have taken place.
"Over the next few months, we expect to bring multiple care sites into our telestroke and telehealth programs," Pletcher said. "This is just the beginning."
Dartmouth-Hitchcock is a national leader in patient-centered health care and building a sustainable health system. Founded in 1893, the system includes New Hampshire's only Level 1 trauma center and its only air ambulance service, as well as the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, one of only 41 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation, and the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the state's only Children's Hospital Association-approved, comprehensive, full-service children's hospital. As an academic medical center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock provides access to nearly 1,000 primary care doctors and specialists in almost every area of medicine, as well as world-class research at the Audrey and Theodor Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.
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