(HealthDay News) — Telemedicine can improve stroke care in rural areas, according to a study published online August 21 in Stroke.

Peter Müller-Barna, MD, from Krankenhaus Agatharied in Hausham, Germany, and colleagues analyzed data from prospective registries (2003–2012) to assess processes and outcomes of consecutive patients with stroke and transient ischemic attack using data from official hospital reports. Participants were treated in TeleMedical Project for integrative Stroke Care (TEMPiS) hospitals.

The researchers found that network implementation correlated with a substantial increase in the proportion of patients with stroke and transient ischemic attack treated in hospitals with (Tele-)Stroke Units within the covered area (from 19 to 78%). There were 54,804 strokes and transient ischemic attacks between February 2003 and December 2012, which were treated in 15 regional hospitals, with 31,864 teleconsultations performed. In 3,331 stroke cases, intravenous thrombolysis was applied, increasing from 2.6 to 15.5% of all patients with ischemic stroke. There was a decrease in median onset-to-treatment times from 150 to 120 minutes, and door-to-needle times also decreased from 80 to 40 minutes.

“TeleStroke Units can provide sustained high-quality stroke care in rural areas,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed being involved in the management of TEMPiS and/or having financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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