Playing our part to bring the expert help to patients

ESNEFT Stroke telemedicine pilot1

Specially-trained paramedics in the East Suffolk locality have started a pioneering initiative this week supporting patients with suspected stroke.

Once one scene with the patient, they can contact a specialist consultant via a secure video conferencing app to liaise with an expert stroke consultant from Ipswich Hospital in cases where a diagnosis is not clear.

Using this technology in the first-of-its-kind pilot means the consultant can then see the patient, ask them and their family 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. It means patients can have specialist tests and scans immediately and treatment can begin sooner.

There is one stroke every five minutes in England, which is the equivalent of 152,000 strokes a year, and Area Clinical Lead Daimon Wheddon 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, we 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, 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 has been funded with a £5,000 bursary from the Eastern Academic Health Science Network. It launched on Monday and will run during the day for around three months or until we respond to 50 patients, after which its feasibility and effectiveness will be evaluated.

It uses software which is already well-established in the eastern region, and has been used to support the out of hours stroke telemedicine service for the past eight years. The pilot will run across Ipswich and east Suffolk.

Dr Rahman Chowdhury, Stroke Consultant at Ipswich Hospital, said: “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.”

Top photo – (L – R) Stroke telemedicine manager Lynda Sibson, paramedics Dan Phillips, Wendy Syddell, Mark Oakes, Andy South and Kate Whiting and hospital stroke consultant Sajid Alam. 

Above photo - Ipswich Hospital stroke consultant Sajid Alam talking via telemedicine technology with paramedic Andy South. 

Above photo:  Paramedic Kate Whiting is taking part in a telemedicine pilot with Ipswich Hospital stroke consultants, where iPads are used in homes so hospital doctors can see the patients.

Photography by Warren Page.

Published 3rd October 2018

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