Is There a Case for Telestroke Military Medicine?

Research Paper Title

A Case for Telestroke in Military Medicine: A Retrospective Analysis of Stroke Cost and Outcomes in U.S. Military Health-Care System.

Background

The development of primary stroke centres has improved outcomes for stroke patients. Telestroke networks have expanded the reach of stroke experts to underserved, geographically remote areas. This study illustrates the outcome and cost differences between neurology and primary care ischaemic stroke admissions to demonstrate a need for telestroke networks within the Military Health System (MHS).

Methods

All adult admissions with a primary diagnosis of ischaemic stroke in the MHS Military Mart database from calendar years 2010 to 2015 were reviewed. Neurology, primary care, and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions were compared across:

  • Primary outcomes of:
    • Disposition status; and
    • Intravenous tissue plasminogen activator administration.
  • Secondary outcomes of:
    • Total cost of hospitalisation; and
    • Length of stay (LOS).

Results

A total of 3623 admissions met the study’s parameters. The composition was neurology 462 (12.8%), primary care 2324 (64.1%), ICU 677 (18.7%), and other/unknown 160 (4.4%). Almost all neurology admissions (97%) were at the 3 neurology training programs, whereas a strong majority of primary care admissions (80%) were at hospitals without a neurology admitting service. Hospitals without a neurology admitting service had more discharges to rehabilitation facilities and higher rates of in-hospital mortality. LOS was also longer in primary care admissions.

Conclusions

Ischaemic stroke admissions to neurology had better outcomes and decreased LOS when compared to primary care within the MHS. This demonstrates a possible gap in care. Implementation of a hub and spoke telestroke model is a potential solution.

Reference

Dave, A., Cagniart, K. & Holtkamp, M.D. (2018) A Case for Telestroke in Military Medicine: A Retrospective Analysis of Stroke Cost and Outcomes in U.S. Military Health-Care System. Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases. 27(8), pp.2277-2284. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2018.04.018. Epub 2018 Jun 7.

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