Stroke continues to be a leading cause of death in South Dakota, and disability from stroke has a dramatic impact of survivors and their families – not mention the health care cost that results from stroke.
With stroke, time lost is brain lost. Expanding the use of telemedicine in the evaluation and treatment of acute stroke – commonly known as “telestroke” -- will greatly improve the quality of care that stroke patients receive, increase the utilization of effective acute stroke treatments, reduce stroke-related disability for many Americans, and save the health care system money but Congress must address barriers to its expansion.
Stroke survivor Senator Mark Kirk has introduced S. 1465, the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine Act - or FAST Act - that would expand Medicare reimbursement for telestroke evaluations to patients who originate at an urban or suburban hospital. The FAST Act is a win-win: it benefits stroke patients, advances the evidence-based use of telehealth services, and it saves money.
Research has documented that telestroke has been shown to improve patient access to the recommended clot-busting stroke treatment by up to six-fold, which increases the number of patients who walk out with little or no disability. Stroke patients receiving the recommended clot-busting therapy are at least 30 percent more likely to have minimal or no disability.