Telemedicine implementation in ambulances can reduce time to treatment for stroke patients, which is important as "time is brain" for these patients. Limited research has explored the demands placed on acute stroke caregivers in a telemedicine-integrated ambulance system. This study investigates the impact of telemedicine on workload, teamwork, workflow, and communication of geographically distributed caregivers delivering stroke care in ambulance-based telemedicine and usability of the system. Simulated stroke sessions were conducted with 27 caregivers, who subsequently completed a survey measuring workload, usability, and teamwork. Follow-up interviews with each caregiver ascertained how telemedicine affected workflow and demands which were analyzed for barriers and facilitators to using telemedicine. Caregivers experienced moderate workload and rated team effectiveness and usability high. Barriers included frustration with equipment and with the training of caregivers increasing demands, the loss of personal connection of the neurologists with the patients, and physical constraints in the ambulance. Facilitators were more common with live visual communication increasing teamwork and efficiency, the ease of access to neurologist, increased flexibility, and high overall satisfaction and usability. Future research should focus on eliminating these barriers and supporting the distributed cognition of caregivers.
Keywords: Qualitative interviews; Stroke caregiving; Teamwork; Telemedicine.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.