Telemedicine in stroke-pertinent to stroke care in Germany

Nervenarzt. 2021 May 27. doi: 10.1007/s00115-021-01137-6. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Telemedical stroke networks improve stroke care and provide access to time-dependent acute stroke treatment in predominantly rural regions. The aim is a presentation of data on its utility and regional distribution.

METHODS: The working group on telemedical stroke care of the German Stroke Society performed a survey study among all telestroke networks.

RESULTS: Currently, 22 telemedical stroke networks including 43 centers (per network: median 1.5, interquartile range, IQR, 1-3) as well as 225 cooperating hospitals (per network: median 9, IQR 4-17) operate in Germany and contribute to acute stroke care delivery to 48 million people. In 2018, 38,211 teleconsultations (per network: median 1340, IQR 319-2758) were performed. The thrombolysis rate was 14.1% (95% confidence interval 13.6-14.7%) and transfer for thrombectomy was initiated in 7.9% (95% confidence interval 7.5-8.4%) of ischemic stroke patients. Financial reimbursement differs regionally with compensation for telemedical stroke care in only three federal states.

CONCLUSION: Telemedical stroke care is utilized in about 1 out of 10 stroke patients in Germany. Telemedical stroke networks achieve similar rates of thrombolysis and transfer for thrombectomy compared with neurological stroke units and contribute to stroke care in rural regions. Standardization of network structures, financial assurance and uniform quality measurements may further strengthen the importance of telestroke networks in the future.

PMID:34046722 | DOI:10.1007/s00115-021-01137-6