Memorial Health Care System Uses FaceTime Smartphone Technology to Improve Outcomes for Stroke Patients

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Rescue workers in the field connect with doctors using Facetime video when dealing with stroke victims

Brijesh P. Mehta, MD

"FaceTime is enabling us to evaluate patients while still in the ambulance en route to our hospital," Brijesh P. Mehta, MD.

Memorial Healthcare System of Hollywood, Florida, is using smartphone technology to improve outcomes for stroke patients and ultimately save lives.

FaceTime video is the fundamental tool in a new pilot program in which Memorial Healthcare System is working with Miramar Fire Rescue in Miramar, Florida, to obtain valuable patient information that enables stroke teams at Memorial Regional Hospital and Memorial Hospital West to be at the ready when stroke patients arrive.

Harnessing the features of FaceTime is the brainchild of Brijesh P Mehta, MD, a NeuroInterventional Surgeon at the Memorial Neuroscience Institute and Director of Stroke and Neurocritical Care, who says timing is everything, particularly when a large vessel stroke occurs.

“The longer neurons are deprived of oxygen due to a clot in the large vessels supplying blood flow to the brain, the more damage occurs,” Dr. Mehta says. “FaceTime is enabling us to evaluate patients while still in the ambulance en route to our hospital and to subsequently mobilize our teams for conducting rapid CT imaging and performing catheter-based intra-arterial treatment that has been shown to be highly effective in strokes due to large clots. This revolutionary treatment offers a much wider time window for successful outcomes than traditional clot-busting drugs that must be delivered intravenously within 4.5 hours of stroke onset and are generally only effective on small vessel blockages.”

Dr. Mehta says Memorial Healthcare System FaceTime allows video capability to detect severe deficits in stroke patients – which are strong indicators for presence of a large vessel occlusion in the brain – and to subsequently prepare the cath lab team at the receiving hospital.

“Setup time for imaging and intra-arterial treatment takes a lot of time,” Dr. Mehta says. “With the use of FaceTime video, however, we have the potential to reduce our time to treatment by as much as 45 minutes, which oftentimes can be a lifesaver for a large artery stroke patient.”    

How FaceTime Works

When Miramar Fire Rescue paramedics encounter a patient with stroke-like systems, they evaluate the individual according to stroke criteria based on the Los Angeles Motor Scale (LAMS).

“When the LAMS score is four or greater – indicating a probable large vessel stroke – we immediately call Dr. Mehta, no matter what time of day or night it may be,” says Randy Gonzalez, Division Chief EMS at Miramar Fire Rescue.

Using FaceTime video, Dr. Mehta and the paramedics conduct a clinical evaluation of the patient according to established protocols to determine the patient’s neurological condition, such as the presence of significant speech impairment and arm/leg weakness. When there is strong indication of a large vessel stroke, Dr. Mehta immediately activates the cath lab at Memorial Regional Hospital or Memorial Hospital West.

“With Dr. Mehta activating his team while we are in transit, the cath lab is setup in advance and eligible patients are rapidly taken to treatment,” Gonzalez said.

After several weeks into the pilot project, outcomes are already exciting, Dr. Mehta says.

“Our rationale for rapid treatment are supported by recent completion of landmark clinical research trials that identified intra-arterial treatment as highly effective and safe compared to traditional medical management. No longer are we asking whether endovascular stroke therapies are beneficial. The question now is how can we administer them quickly to ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients.”

Memorial Healthcare System is the third-largest public healthcare system in the country. It is a national leader in quality care and patient satisfaction and is ranked on Modern Healthcare magazine’s list of Best Places to Work in Healthcare. Its facilities include Memorial Regional Hospital, Memorial Regional Hospital South, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, Memorial Hospital West, Memorial Hospital Miramar, Memorial Hospital Pembroke and Memorial Manor nursing home.

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