Victorian Stroke Telemedicine Program receives International Award for Excellence in Health Care

September 16, 2016

The Victorian Stroke Telemedicine (VST) Program was a finalist and award recipient (honourable mention) in the 2016 Ko Awatea International Excellence in Health Improvement Awards. The awards were presented this week at the APAC Forum 2016, one of the largest and best health improvement conferences in the world. The award recognises the program for its success in transforming the health of rural and regional Victorians following a stroke. 

When a rural or regional Victorian suffers a stroke, the patient is rushed by ambulance to the nearest regional hospital. As part of the Victorian Stroke Telemedicine Program, a city-based neurologist is able to assess the patient and their brain images using state-of-the-art telemedicine equipment next to the bed. The service is available 24-hours a day. Before the program began 5 years ago, few rural or regional patients had access to the potentially life-saving clot busting drug known as stroke thrombolysis. By November, VST will be active in all 16 major regional hospitals in Victoria.
The program is the brainchild of Professor Chris Bladin, a neurologist at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health in Melbourne, and ensures that 94 per cent of Victorians are within one hour of world standard stroke care.
Co-head of the program, Associate Professor Dominique Cadilhac adds: “We are so pleased to be recognised by this award”.
“Thanks to the efforts of all our partners involved in the program, including Ambulance Victoria and Monash University, rural Victorians are now experiencing an average 40-minute reduction in the time taken to receive clot-busting medication.”
The program receives several calls a day, and this number is rapidly growing. It has now treated almost 1000 rural and regional patients with suspected acute stroke.

As well as giving the clot-busting treatment, the telemedicine neurologists are also able to determine if a rural patient with stroke is eligible for cutting edge ‘endovascular blood clot retrieval therapy’. Patients are transferred to the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the first designated state-wide centre for this procedure. A catheter is inserted into the brain, and the blood clot is removed. This rapidly restores blood flow to the area of the brain affected by the stroke and has shown to dramatically improve patient survival and recovery.
Watch a short video about the Victorian Stroke Telemedicine Program 
Key partners and funders in VST include: Australian Federal Government; Victorian State Government; Victorian Stroke Clinical Network; Monash University; Ambulance Victoria; Stroke Foundation; Australian Stroke Clinical Registry and Deakin University.