Background: Acute ischemic stroke requires early medical imaging with a computed tomography (CT) scan and immediate thrombolysis treatment. In rural areas, the long distance to the nearest hospital reduce the patients' probability of receiving medical assistance within the 4.5-h period. The aim of this study was to assess how the service was set-up, and how managers and personnel experience the organisation and value of a rural telemedicine, remote controlled CT stroke service.
Methods: Ten semi-structured individual interviews and one semi-structured focus group interview were conducted. The sample included 15 participants involved in the telemedicine service in Hallingdal, Norway. The interview guide consisted of questions on the service, experience of working with the service, value and quality, management, and challenges. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic content analysis was used to develop a narrative of the findings.
Results: Findings were categorised into three main categories; value of the service, organisation of the project, and from project to permanent service. Participants perceived the service to be valuable for patients and the local community. The service included task shifting from radiographers and junior doctors to the local paramedics. To enable long- term operation of the service the participants suggested management, coordination, and continuous training as important factors.
Conclusions: The service was perceived as valuable to the local community, providing a sense of healthcare security and equitability. Management's involvement, flexibility, and coordination appears to be a key factor for successful implementation and long-term sustainability of the service.
Keywords: Computed tomography; Implementation; Organization of health services; Stroke evaluation; Telemedicine.
© 2022. The Author(s).