Virtual Stroke Care Appears Cost-Effective
American Academy of Neurology
In a first of its kind study, researchers have found that
using two way audio-video telemedicine to deliver stroke care, also known as
telestroke, appears to be cost-effective for rural hospitals that don't have an
around-the-clock neurologist, or stroke expert, on staff. The research is
published in the September 14, 2011, online issue of Neurology®, the
medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
"In an era of spiraling healthcare costs, our findings give critical
information to medical policy makers," said Jennifer J. Majersik, MD, MS,
with the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City and a member
of the American Academy of Neurology. "If barriers to using telestroke,
such as low reimbursement rates and high equipment costs are improved,
telestroke has the potential to greatly diminish the striking disparity in
stroke care for rural America."
For the study, researchers used existing data from previous telestroke studies,
as well as data from large multi-hospital telestroke network databases at the
University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics in Salt Lake City and Mayo Clinic in
Phoenix. They calculated the cost-effectiveness of telestroke by comparing the
costs and quality-adjusted life years of stroke patients treated by telestroke
to those treated by usual care such as a rural emergency department without
telestroke or a stroke expert available. Quality-adjusted life year is a
measure of disease burden based on the number of years of life that would be
added by using telestroke and the quality of life during those years.