High marks for telestroke evaluation
Medical images viewed on smartphones can be effectively used to remotely evaluate stroke patients through telemedicine, according to a study published online ahead of print in Stroke.

The study, from researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, was the first to test the effectiveness of smartphone teleradiology applications in a real-world telestroke network.

"Smartphones are ubiquitous, they are everywhere," Bart Demaerschalk, MD, professor of neurology, and medical director of Mayo Clinic Telestroke, said in a release. "If we can transmit health information securely and simultaneously use the video conferencing capabilities for clinical assessments, we can have telemedicine anywhere, which is essential in a state like Arizona where more than 40 percent of the population doesn't have access to immediate neurologic care."

The mobile application used in the study, ResolutionMD, runs on smartphones and allows vascular neurologists to access radiological images of patients with stroke for telemedicine evaluation. In the telestroke care model used by the Mayo Clinic, a neurology specialist provides interpretations to regional sites from a hub center. Typically working on a desktop or laptop computer, he or she sees stroke patients and consults with emergency room physicians remotely.

The current study aimed to compare the quality of medical images in the mobile application with the same types of information that would otherwise be viewed on desktop computers.

Fifty-three patients with stroke at a remote regional hospital who consented to receive telemedicine were included in the study. Patients underwent brain CT scans that were evaluated by a hub vascular neurologist, a radiologist at the regional location and by a blinded telestroke adjudicator.

Results showed a level of agreement of 92 to 100 percent for intracranial hemorrhage among all reviewers, reported the authors. High level of agreement was also demonstrated among reviewers for other important radiological features such as neoplasms.

“When coupled together, real-time video-phone neurological examinations and Smartphone teleradiology assessments may offer a [vascular neurologist] a single mobile health tool with which to expeditiously conduct full telestroke and teleradiology assessments necessary for a complete virtual stroke consultation in a remote environment,” wrote Demaerschalk and colleagues.

The study was funded by the Arizona Department of Health Services and the technology and technical assistance was provided by Calgary Scientific, the maker of ResolutionMD.

To learn more about telestroke programs, read “Telestroke Networks Make a Mark” from Health Imaging magazine.