Guest article: How tech can play a pivotal role in supporting stroke patients during COVID-19
Following the Stroke Association’s recent report on the increased risk of patients not receiving treatment because of the impacts of the pandemic, in this article, Alan Lowe, CEO of telehealth company Visionable, discusses technology’s role in helping to mitigate this impact and alleviate problems long-term.
According to the stroke charity’s research, 39 percent of stroke survivors who had their stroke this year reported having not received enough rehabilitation, including physiotherapy. Adding to this, more than half of stroke survivors have had therapy appointments or home care visits cancelled or postponed, the report found.
Alan echoes just how important it is for stroke patients to access specialist rehabilitation. He says that healthcare technology allows stroke patients to complete physiotherapy sessions at home, which reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission while saving staff and patients time.
Frontline workers have gone to extraordinary efforts over the last few months to ensure services are maintained in every aspect of healthcare delivery. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has stretched an already understaffed service which means that vital services for stroke patients have stopped or are difficult to secure.
The concerning findings included within the Stroke Association’s recent report “Stroke Recoveries at Risk” highlights that immediate action is required in order to reduce a “rising tide” of demand that is soon to face the NHS.
The number of stroke consultants in the UK is 40% lower than required levels and for every 15 minutes where effective stroke treatment is not administered, a loss of three years of life can result. This underlines how vital it is not only to improve access to specialist stroke care, but the speed of that access.
This is where technology, implemented with care and in close consultation with clinicians, can play a pivotal role. Healthcare technology offering clinical grade resolution and multiple camera feeds, bridges skills gaps by bringing specialist medical expertise directly into ambulances and homes regardless of geography, and could save precious minutes in A&E by routing patients directly to the correct department upon arrival at hospital.
Ongoing care, advice and physiotherapy sessions for stroke patients can also be administered virtually in the home saving patients the time, expense and stress of travelling to appointments.
The good news is that this technology is already available and has been successfully implemented within NHS East of England which saw 3,200 stroke patients successfully assessed virtually. The speed of access to diagnosis and treatment resulted in improved outcomes, time saved for clinicians and all at a lower cost for the NHS.