Kittitas Valley Healthcare has had a collaborative partnership with Virginia Mason Medical Center for telemedicine consultations of patients with stroke-like symptoms since January 2011. Beginning this month, telemedicine consultations may now include a video consultation component.
Telemedicine consultations have previously included a phone consultation between a neurologist of Virginia Mason Medical Center and the provider in the Emergency Department at KVH Hospital. The neurologist has also conducted an electronic review of the images resulting from a patient’s computed tomography (CT) exam.
However, the ability for a neurology specialist to visually evaluate a patient is extremely important when considering a stroke diagnosis. One of the most common symptoms of the condition is the sudden numbness or weakness of one side of the face, an arm, or a leg. Since treatment within three hours of the first symptoms of stroke can minimize long-term effects, video consultation can be extremely beneficial to rural areas like Kittitas County.
“The patient and their family will be able to speak with the specialist directly,” according to Linda Wichers, KVH Coordinator for Stroke, Cardiac, and Trauma. “If the patient is later transferred or has follow-up care with a Virginia Mason Medical Center provider, they will already have had some experience with the organization.”
By enhancing the care available locally to patients with stroke-like symptoms, KVH enhances a stroke program that has already received accolades. KVH Hospital was awarded the Get With the Guidelines – Stroke Silver Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association in November 2013.
KVH saw 135 patients with stroke-like symptoms in 2013. Thirty-seven of these patients were transferred to another facility for care, including 25 patients who were transferred to Virginia Mason Medical Center.