For more than five years our stroke team has utilized telemedicine to “reach out” to smaller hospitals who do not have stroke expertise. The technology involves a camera and audio system at both our facility here in Houston and at other regional hospitals across the state. We provide 24/7 stroke-call. If our neurologists treat a patient with intravenous-tPA by way of a telemedicine consult, then transfer to our facility is offered for additional therapies if warranted. For instance, if a patient is suspected to have a blood clot in one of the larger arteries of the brain and they do not improve with IV-tPA, then transfer for intra-arterial therapy can be offered.
Recently, our department has instituted two new telemedicine programs:
The UT Stroke program is partnered with a company named Specialists On-Call (SOC). SOC is a company which provides specialist physician consultations via videoconference to hospitals throughout the United States. SOC along with physician partners like the Department of Neurology and the UT Stroke Team constitute the largest emergency neurology practice in the U.S., extending specialty neurology expertise to thousands of patients who otherwise would do without. Currently, the UT Stroke team provides stroke care to all of SOC's Texas hospital clients, now ten hospitals and growing.
Through a partnership with Memorial Hermann and Intouch Health, the UT Stroke team is providing emergent stroke consultations through a robotic telemedicine system. Currently, two sister Hermann hospitals have an internet-connected robot which can be accessed by laptop by the stroke team member and controlled remotely. The stroke team member can interact with the stroke patient and provide care.
Robot (aka RP-7): Under the direct control of a remote physician seated at a ControlStation, RP-7 can move untethered allowing the physician to freely interact with patients, family members and hospital staff from anywhere, anytime.