Hackensack Meridian Health's telestroke program eliminated 'neurologist shortage'

The high demand for neurologists at Hackensack Meridian Health prompted officials at the New Jersey-based system to establish a telestroke program powered by Teladoc to get eyes on stroke patients as quickly as possible. 

Neurologists now use the telemedicine platform to remotely connect to a patient's bedside,  allowing specialists to see a patient remotely, including viewing images and labs, which significantly speeds up stroke response times and treatment rates.

According to Alan Colicchio, MD, medical director of neuroscience for Hackensack Meridian Health, on average, the telestroke program can make a diagnosis decision for stroke patients in 18 minutes. Before the program, that time was around 45 minutes to an hour, Dr. Colicchio told Becker's

The implementation of the telestroke program has also helped eliminate provider burnout, he said.

Before the program, Hackensack Meridian Health had to staff the stroke centers, meaning neurologists had to come in from home after hours, on weekends or private practice neurologists had to travel to the health system to evaluate stroke patients. 

"It was frustrating for them (neurologists) and it was not in the best interest of patient care, certainly not for stroke patients and not for their office patients that sometimes had to be canceled or rescheduled," said Dr. Colicchio. "Neurologists are typically every year rated in the top three specialists for burnout. With the telestroke program pulling neurologists from throughout the U.S., we can get more coverage for patients." 

Neurologists are in short order and in high demand, with Hackensack Meridian Health's telestroke platform, the health system can now extend their reach and treat more patients, especially those who can't easily access emergency in-person care.

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