September 1, 2011

Initiative uses telemedicine to provide stroke expertise statewide

Americans living in a region of the southeastern United States known as the “Stroke Belt” are known to have a 15 percent higher risk of stroke and suffer stroke mortality that is 30 percent to 40 percent higher than the rest of the nation.

One of the significant reasons the Southeast is burdened with such high incidence of stroke and stroke-related death is inadequate access to immediate intervention. Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Specialists On Call are partnering to create a 24/7/365 teleneurology network to bridge this gap in Tennessee.

The new Vanderbilt Neuroscience Network will provide hospitals statewide, via telemedicine, with immediate access to board-certified neurologists for patients suffering from stroke and other neurologic emergencies.

“The Vanderbilt Neuroscience Network is a cutting-edge answer to a problem that has already cost our state countless lives and dollars,” said Howard Kirshner, M.D., professor and vice chair of the Department of Neurology and director of the Vanderbilt Stroke Center.

“Teleneurology is the most efficient way to help stroke patients receive appropriate care and it’s also the most cost effective. We look forward to rolling out this network to hospitals throughout Tennessee and helping stroke patients and their families get the very best neurologic care possible.”

Specialists On Call, VUMC’s partner in the Vanderbilt Neuroscience Network, is the nation’s largest clinical telemedicine provider. Through other affiliations, Specialists on Call has already delivered more than 30,000 emergency consultations to patients nationwide.

Hospital members of the network will have immediate and around-the-clock access to neurologists in order to treat stroke patients, as well as the ability to transfer patients in need of stroke or cerebrovascular intervention to VUMC.

In addition, VUMC will offer stroke education, stroke screening programs, and assistance with Stroke Certification to all hospitals within the network.