Hawai'i faces unique challenges in providing access to subspecialty care, particularly on the islands outside of O'ahu. Telemedicine allows remote treatment of patients with acute ischemic stroke by a neurologist with stroke expertise. The Hawai'i Telestroke Program was implemented in 2012 to connect hospitals with limited neurology coverage to a tertiary stroke center on O'ahu with 24/7 stroke neurology coverage. By 2017, seven hospitals were included in the program. The clinical data and revascularization therapy rate for all telestroke cases between January 2012 and July 2017 were analyzed. Annual telestroke consultations increased from 11 in 2012 to 203 in 2016. Among a total of 490 telestroke consultations, 318 patients (64.9%) were diagnosed with ischemic stroke while the remaining 172 patients had other diagnoses. Revascularization therapies, including intravenous tissue plasminogen activator and mechanical thrombectomy, were provided in 190 patients (38.8%). Using the discharge modified Rankin Scale, 141 (44.3%) patients were functionally independent at the time of hospital discharge, while 162 (50.9%) were disabled or dependent, and 15 (4.7%) died while in the hospital. Of the 490 telestroke consultations, 151 patients (30.8%) were transferred to the hub hospital while 69.2% of patients were able to remain in their local hospital. In summary, development of the Hawai'i Telestroke Program resulted in an increasing number of acute telestroke consultations and revascularization therapies at seven hospitals with limited neurological subspecialty coverage. Utilization of telemedicine in acute stroke treatment is feasible and may help address existing disparities of subspecialty care in Hawai'i.
Keywords: acute ischemic stroke; functional outcomes; inter-hospital transfer; stroke mimics; telemedicine; tissue plasminogen activator.