First-of-its-kind pilot takes expert help into patients’ homes

Date: 01 October 2018

Stroke telemedicine pilot

There is one stroke every five minutes in England, the equivalent of 152,000 strokes a year. It is the second biggest cause of death worldwide.

Stark statistics which help inform how we can improve patient care and their outcomes - the guiding principles behind a pioneering initiative launched today (1st October).

Patients who have had a suspected stroke can now be assessed by a specialist consultant in the comfort of their own home thanks to the first-of-its-kind pilot using technology to improve care. It utilises software already well-established in the eastern region, and which has been used to support the out of hours stroke telemedicine service for the past eight years.

Specially-trained paramedics from our service will use a secure video conferencing app to liaise with an expert stroke consultant from Ipswich Hospital in cases where a diagnosis is not clear. The consultant can then see the patient, ask them and those with them questions about their history and symptoms, and discuss the case with the paramedic before deciding whether they need to come to hospital or can receive more appropriate care elsewhere, such as their GP surgery.

If the consultant does feel the patient has had a stroke, they can arrange for the ambulance crew to bypass A&E and head straight to the specialist stroke unit at hospital. It means patients can have specialist tests and scans immediately and treatment can begin sooner.

Daimon Wheddon, an area clinical lead with EEAST, said: “Stroke is the second biggest cause of death worldwide and affects around one in every six people in the UK. When it is clear that the patient has had a stroke, ambulance staff will get them to hospital as quickly as possible so that they can get access to the right treatment to help minimise any long-term damage or disability.

“However, our crews often attend calls where the diagnosis is not as certain. The patient may have had a mini stroke, or may be suffering with a condition which mimics stroke symptoms, such as a migraine which can cause blurred vision and speech impairment.

“This important pilot will allow our crews to gain expert advice from hospital consultants in any cases where there is a doubt so that they can decide on the best treatment for that individual, in turn improving both their outcome and experience of receiving care.”

The pilot project, funded with a £5,000 bursary from the Eastern Academic Health Science Network, will run during the day for around three months or until it helps 50 patients, after which its feasibility and effectiveness will be evaluated. 

Dr Rahman Chowdhury, Stroke Consultant at Ipswich Hospital, added: “We are delighted to be working with our partners on this important project, which uses technology to improve care by taking the stroke clinic into a patient’s living room. 

“It will make sure that every patient receives the right treatment in the right setting to meet their needs, while ensuring that only those people who really need hospital care are brought onto our wards.”

The pilot will run across Ipswich and east Suffolk.

  • Summary:

    Improving care for patients in East Suffolk