Networked Medical Device Technologies Improving Emergency Outcomes


Networked Medical Device Technologies Improving Emergency Outcomes

Telemedicine is often touted for its ability to connect far-flung communities in rural areas where access to specialists in obstetrics or cardiology can be limited. Medical device companies should also be aware of the other opportunities offered by remote access technology, however, that move beyond the horizon of a standard in-office consultation and help to provide emergency intervention.

Consider the time-sensitive nature of neurological events, especially when dealing with potential stroke victims. The ability to quickly access expertise outside of an ER can mean the difference between a full recovery and a lifetime of disability. In recognition of this, some healthcare facilities are beginning to incorporate advanced medical device technology in order to create remote intervention units that can connect patients with specialists in a crisis.

The Cleveland Clinic is one example. The Clinic has created a stroke unit that is capable of interfacing with a neurologist in real-time when responding to an emergency call, transmitting CT data on the way to the facility in order to prepare for the most rapid treatment possible. Time is of the essence when dealing with stroke, and neurologists who are able to assess a patient's injuries prior to their arrival in an ER can instigate treatments such as tissue plasminogen activator or endovascular therapy much more quickly, saving lives and improving outcomes. This ability to act in a timely manner is critical in a healthcare environment where only 30 percent of ER patients typically receive these types of treatments within the one hour prescribed window of their arrival.

Not every hospital or clinic can afford, or even find, its own neurologist. Technologies such as those employed by the Clinic have lead to the creation of what the Wall Street Journal calls 'virtual' stroke networks, including the Target Stroke program managed by the Mayo Clinic. Target Stroke allows for the incorporation of mobile medical devices that provide the diagnostic information mentioned above into a network of geographically-dispersed neurology specialists in nine different states, who in turn recommend treatment for 38 hospitals (the Cleveland Clinic's 'telestroke' network serves 11 hospitals). Target Stroke, sponsored by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, has helped to double the percentage of patients receiving critical first-hour interventions over the course of the last four years.

Remote intervention is one of the frontiers of medical device technology, and one that will be increasingly important in a networked world of healthcare consultation and treatment. The ability to chart a course through this interconnected landscape will play a huge role in the success of medical device companies moving into an increasingly fast-paced market.

0 2008-01-18T13:10:54 Administrator

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