CHELAN, Wash. - Washington has one of the highest stroke death rates in
the nation - and technology may be part of the cure. A new service is
enabling specialists in Seattle to be called in as consultants in
several of the state's rural hospitals without setting foot in the
Swedish Hospital in Seattle is trying to improve stroke recovery odds
in rural areas with the TeleStroke program. In small-town emergency
rooms set up for TeleStroke service, neurology experts at Swedish can
see and talk with the patient, check test results and consult with
local doctors, all by camera and computer.
Physician Bill Likosky at Swedish says it is almost like being in the room.
"In a lot of ways, it's very much as if we're right there. We know the
individuals we're dealing with; we're very comfortable with them. The
nurses are well-trained; the doctors are well-trained. We know each
other by face. It's very much like just walking in and being there."
Long-term, Likosky says health care providers see the system's
potential to help ease the shortage of physicians in rural areas of the
"As people become comfortable with this, and say, 'What does it do well
and what doesn't it do well?', I think a number of things will probably
come up. The same kind of device that we use in the emergency room
could really be wheeled around a medical center. That's another
opportunity we're thinking about."
Lake Chelan Community Hospital, Chelan, recently has become the third
rural hospital with TeleStroke service. It also is being used at Skagit
Valley Hospital, Mount Vernon, and Jefferson Healthcare, Port Townsend.