Researchers have found that the treatment of stroke patients in remote areas can be greatly improved if doctors use a telemedicine programme rather than traditional telephone consultations.
The study at the San Diego Medical Centre in the US looked at how stroke specialists could be "transported" via computer desktop or laptop to the patient's bedside using video, audio and internet technology.
It found that the so-called "STRokE DOC" technology enabled doctors to make good treatment decisions, and better decisions than telephone consultations, when evaluating stroke patients across distant sites.
STRokE DOC (Stroke Team Remote Evaluation using a Digital Observation Camera) connects stroke experts located at a "hub" site to the patient at a remote but connected "spoke" site via the internet.
The teleconsultation system allows the stroke expert real-time visual and audio access to the patient, medical team and medical data at the remote site.
The system allows patients and their families to see, hear, and communicate directly with the doctor.
The study's findings, published in Lancet Neurology, that telemedicine results in better treatment decisions than telephone consultations could lead to some immediate changes in how stroke patients in remote areas are evaluated and treated, the researchers concluded.