Polycom video collaboration saves lives

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The NHS Cumbria & Lancashire Cardiac and Stroke Network (CSNLC) is saving the lives of stroke victims by connecting patients with remote doctors in the time-critical early intervention stage of stroke using Polycom RealPresence high-definition video collaboration solutions.  Polycom video solutions include mobile Practitioner carts in each of the six Acute Trusts in Cumbria and Lancashire and personal video collaboration software running on laptops in each of the consulting physician’s homes. 

The need for an around the clock stroke service was the key driver behind the project. The combined NHS Trusts of Lancashire & Cumbria selected Polycom RealPresence video solutions as part of a new state of the art ‘telestroke’ service.  Installed at the end of July 2011, the service has already positively impacted the treatment of 26 stroke patients in Cumbria and Lancashire by providing access to Thrombolysis treatment around the clock.  “In addition to huge patient benefits, the service is anticipated to save Lancashire & Cumbria NHS Trusts over £8million a year,” said Kathy Blacker, Director of the CSNLC.

 With Polycom video collaboration, patients get round-the-clock, on-demand, face-to-face access to expert specialist care – no matter where the patients or the consulting doctors are located. Fifteen consultant stroke physicians are on call from home covering the service out of hours and supporting clinicians in each of the eight hospitals, servicing approximately 2.2 million people across the region.  Polycom video collaboration software for laptops are used by the 15 consulting stroke physicians that are on call from their homes. Each consultant has a laptop equipped with Polycom videoconferencing software, which they use to connect to any of the six hospitals via a Polycom Practitioner Cart at the patient’s bedside. Controlling a camera remotely, the specialist can see the detailed clinical examination performed by the clinician at the bedside. This results in more effective and productive use of scarce medical expertise through video, faster treatment times and improved outcomes for patients.

After reviewing the requirements for the area and considering all options, the CSNLC selected MultiSense Communications, a Polycom Healthcare Solution Provider, to deploy Polycom video solutions, along with other key technology partners including Virgin Media and Imerja to support the service. Funding was made available by the NHS to cover the cost of the equipment which included high-speed broadband technology to remotely connect eight Polycom Practitioner carts to each of the eight hospitals.

 Dr. Mark O’Donnell, Stroke Consultant at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Clinical Lead for the CSNLC said: “If a patient arrives in hospital with a stroke, outside the normal working day, a Telestroke consultation will then be commenced.  The Polycom Practitioner cart contains a screen so the patient can see the consultant remotely and a camera for the consultant to view the patient.  The consultant is then able to perform an examination with the help of the team in the hospital to decide whether the symptoms experienced are due to a stroke and whether Thrombolysis (the use of drugs to break up or dissolve blood clots) treatment is appropriate.”

“Thrombolysis treatment,” added Dr. O’Donnell, “can only be given to patients within four hours of the onset of their stroke – so time is crucial, and Telestroke helps improve the speed of patient diagnosis.  We are using Polycom video collaboration technology to take the stroke specialists to the patient, rather than moving the patient long distances, around rural areas, to where the specialists work.  In an acute stroke, time is of the essence and the sooner treatments can be provided, the better.”


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