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Stroke Consultations Go High-Tech with New 'Robots'

TeleStroke Network connects neurologists with other hospitals

TeleStroke connects neurologists from The University of Kansas Hospital with other hospitalsNeurologists at The University of Kansas Health System are using an innovative telemedicine system to help evaluate possible stroke patients to other hospitals.

The hospital's new TeleStroke Network features a robot-like device. It allows neurologists here to communicate live with physicians at remote emergency departments or at their patients' bedsides.

The robot provides two-way high-definition audiovisual over a secure Web network. It also allows neurologists to view the patient's CT scan.

"We've always used phones to consult with physicians at other hospitals," said Stroke Outreach Coordinator Tony Nunn, RN. "Now we can see and interact with the patient. It significantly improves our diagnosis and triage decisions."

After weeks of mock stroke codes, the hospital's TeleStroke Network officially launched in summer 2014 with Hays Medical Center in western Kansas.

Nunn believes the network likely will expand to a dozen or more community hospitals that want round-the-clock access to The University of Kansas Health System's neuroscience subspecialists.

Neurologists connect to robots using laptops or iPads to examine possible stroke patients at remote hospitals on the TeleStroke NetworkSuch access is especially important for evaluating strokes, when diagnosis and treatment within the first 90 minutes are critical. In 2012, our hospital was one of the first in the nation to be recognized as an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center.

The center's six vascular neurologists can be a resource to smaller, rural facilities that want to join the TeleStroke Network. "This is very much a partnership," Nunn said. "We are working in concert with those hospitals."

The robots are mobile, so staff at the remote hospitals can roll them to patient rooms or emergency departments s needed.

Neurologists at The University of Kansas Health System connect to the TeleStroke Network and the robots through laptops or iPads, which allows them more flexibility. They control cameras on the distant robots, zooming in on the patient's face, for instance, to look for signs or symptoms of stroke.