Background: The lack of physicians with specialty stroke training represents a significant challenge to the future of stroke. This deficit limits both quality stroke care and clinical research initiatives.
Methods: The use of telemedicine for stroke ('telestroke') has been an attempt to overcome this shortage and extend stroke expertise to locations which lack coverage. However, the initial telestroke systems required a point-to-point connection for transmission and only provided videoconferencing which limited their generalizability and usefulness. 'Telestroke 2.0' is the authors' vision of an integrative web-based telestroke system combining high-quality audiovideo transmission, the ability of consults and teleradiology to be carried out from any desktop or laptop computer with web-access, decision and technical support, creation of billable physician documentation and electronic medical record connectivity.
Results: These features will facilitate the development of statewide and regional telestroke call networks with an opportunity for physician supply companies to fill in coverage gaps. In addition, telestroke 2.0 may improve acute stroke research by increasing trial efficiency via the addition of non-academic recruitment sites, enhancing trial validity by centralizing neurologic examinations via recorded encounters, and generalizing clinical trial results to community hospital settings.
Conclusions: Greater diffusion and long-term sustainability of telestroke systems will be dependent upon improvements in patient and hospital reimbursement for acute stroke and telestroke care.
Copyright 2009 S. Karger AG, Basel.