“That’s where a lot of the impetus for telemedicine got started, was care needs to be delivered at a distance, like the space station or to rural environment,” said Peter Rasmussen, MD. “But the reality is it really addresses access issues.”
“Distance Health has really made for the democratization of care,” Rasmussen said. “Many patients around the globe or in the United States may find it difficult to access us, or perhaps feel intimidated accessing us for our opinion or care. And by using these technologies, we can bring Cleveland Clinic experts to anyone’s home in the [United States] or around the globe.”
Rasmussen, a surgeon in the clinic’s Cerebrovascular Center, sees similar writing on the wall. Cleveland Clinic was one of the first healthcare systems to provide a broad Telestroke Network, which treats about 1500 acute stroke patients annually. The network is crucial to patients in rural settings, or even areas of Cleveland with “highly specialized provider shortages,” Rasmussen said.
The network is coupled with a Mobile Stroke Treatment Program to provide comprehensive remote care. The program provides an ambulance equipped with a computerized tomography (CT) scanner and laboratory equipment that allows Emergency Department-quality evaluations of a possible stroke patient on the spot, while keeping the option of triaging the patient open.
“This really allows for the most rapid delivery of care you possibly can to a time-sensitive disease like acute stroke,” Rasmussen said. “We can shave 40 minutes off from the 911 call to the time of definitive treatment.”
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