Unified Communications Featured Article

UK Stroke Specialists Use Polycom Solutions to Advise on the Spot, from Anywhere, When Time is Vital

January 17, 2012

Polycom Inc., a provider of standards-based unified communications (UC), today announced that it is helping the UK-based NHS Cumbria & Lancashire Cardiac and Stroke Network (CSNLC) provide “telestroke” service to help save the lives of stroke victims by connecting patients with remote doctors in the “Golden Hour,” the most critical point of intervention for survival.

Using Polycom video collaboration technology, “15 stroke consultants from six participating Acute Trusts connecting eight hospitals are able to take stroke specialists to the patient enabling timely diagnosis and treatment, saving lives and over £8 million a year,” the press release reads.

Hospitals are managed by acute trusts in the UK.

CSNLC uses Polycom video solutions that include mobile practitioner carts in each of the six Acute Trusts in Cumbria and Lancashire. Practioner carts bring high definition video, audio and image sharing to medical professionals and patients no matter where they are located, according to the press release.

With Polycom video collaboration, patients get 24/7, on-demand, face-to-face access to expert specialist care no matter where the patients or the consulting doctors are located, according to the press release. Fifteen consultant stroke physicians are on call from their homes to cover the service in off-hours and support clinicians in each of the eight hospitals, serving approximately 2.2 million people across the region.

 CSNLC also uses Polycom’s personal video collaboration software running on laptops, which are used to connect to any of the six hospitals via a Polycom Practitioner Cart at the patient’s bedside. Controlling a camera remotely, the specialist can see the detailed clinical examination performed by the clinician at the bedside and provide his expert advice to the general doctor, resulting “in more effective and productive use of scarce medical expertise through video, faster treatment times and improved outcomes for patients,” according to the press release.

The press release states that the need for an around the clock stroke service was the key driver behind the project. When someone is having a stroke, time is of the essence. Rapid diagnosis and prompt treatment can help prevent permanent disability or even death, according to Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago. Each year, over 800,000 Americans have a stroke and 47,000 will have a recurrent episode, according to the American Heart Association.

Almost 7 million people have had strokes in the US. An estimated 150,000 people in the UK have strokes every year and strokes are responsible for 53,000 deaths in the country annually.

The “telestroke” service, part of Polycom’s RealPresence video solutions, was installed at NHS Trusts of Lancashire & Cumbria at the end of July 2011, and according to the press release, has “already positively impacted the treatment of 26 stroke patients in Cumbria and Lancashire by providing access to thrombolysis (dissolving the clots that cause strokes) treatment around the clock.”

“Thrombolysis treatment can only be given to patients within four hours of the onset of their stroke – so time is crucial, and Telestroke helps improve the speed of patient diagnosis,” said Dr. Mark O’Donnell, Stroke Consultant at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, NHS Foundation Trust and Clinical Lead for the CSNLC, in the press release. “We are using Polycom video collaboration technology to take the stroke specialists to the patient, rather than moving the patient long distances, around rural areas, to where the specialists work. In an acute stroke, time is of the essence and the sooner treatments can be provided, the better.”

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO East 2012, taking place Jan. 31-Feb. 3 2012, in Miami, FL. ITEXPO offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. For more information on registering for ITEXPO registration click here.

Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO. Follow us on Twitter.

Deborah DiSesa Hirsch is an award-winning health and technology writer who has worked for newspapers, magazines and IBM in her 20-year career. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves