Research Medical Center
February 14, 2012

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of adult disability. Time-critical diagnosis of 795,000 annual U.S. stroke patients is paramount in helping patients receive the necessary drugs and treatment. Delays in diagnosis contribute to the mortality and disability associated with stroke.

Midwest Stroke Care at Research Medical Center recently launched TeleStroke, part of its telemedicine program, which overcomes geographic and transportation barriers with reliable technology. TeleStroke allows immediate access to Research Medical Center’s stroke experts who can provide consultation and medical expertise to on-site providers in rural and underserved areas to manage acute stroke as needed.

“The beauty of telemedicine services such as TeleStroke is that it brings off-site specialty services directly to the patients and physicians who need them at exactly the time when they need them,” says Iftekhar Ahmed, MD, a leader in stroke/TIA care and medical director of Midwest Stroke Care at Research Medical Center. “Significant research proves that telemedicine can result in a reduction of unnecessary transfers and improved quality of care.”

Telemedicine is a rapidly expanding area of healthcare that uses various telecommunication technologies to exchange medical information from one location to another, enabling physicians and medical institutions to treat and consult with physicians, clinicians and patients in hospitals. Research Medical Center’s TeleStroke Program will support community hospitals by providing 24-hour on-call stroke specialists and Emergency Department acute stroke consultation.

Using real-time videoconferencing, Midwest Stroke Care’s TeleStroke program provides a 24-hour on-call neurologist to aid in prompt evaluation and treatment of stroke patients, helping to determine whether or not the patient’s symptoms, history and condition might make that patient a candidate for one of two highly specialized treatments performed at Research Medical Center: The administration of rtPA, an intravenous clot-busting drug that can help dissolve blood clots if administered within three hours of the beginning of a stroke or the MERCI (Mechanical Embolus Removal in Cerebral Ischemia) procedure during which a specially-trained Interventional Radiologist passes a unique catheter into a large artery under x-ray guidance to locate and to remove a clot lodged in the patient’s brain , restoring blood flow.

Research Medical Center, part of HCA Midwest Health System—Kansas City’s largest healthcare network—has the technology to deliver highly specialized stroke care. The hospital received Get With the Guidelines™ - Stroke Gold Plus in 2011. This award recognizes the hospital’s commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care by ensuring that stroke patients receive treatment according to nationally accepted standards and recommendations. Research Medical Center was the first Certified Primary Stroke Center in the region and offers comprehensive stroke care with the latest technologies and most effective treatments available.

Kevin J. Hicks, chief executive officer of Research Medical Center, says that the physicians and staff are committed to maximizing resources efficiently to deliver the best healthcare. “TeleStroke reflects Research's dedication to quality patient care as well as our commitment to advanced technology and the opportunity to provide specialty care to the underserved outreach areas of our community," says Hicks.

For information about partnering with Midwest Stroke Care at Research Medical Center, call (816) 276-3946.