Victorian Stroke Telemedicine (VST)
The Victorian Stroke Telemedicine (VST) service enables clinicians to collaborate across organisational boundaries to deliver the best care possible to patients with stroke, irrespective of their location. VST is a virtual service which currently links 17 Victorian hospitals and 2 Tasmanian hospitals to a network of stroke consultants who can provide treatment advice about patients with acute stroke symptoms. VST uses audio-visual communication between stroke consultants, patients and local clinicians and has real-time access to brain imaging to facilitate the remote consultations. VST is part of Ambulance Victoria.
The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year.
Stroke is Australia’s second largest cause of death and greatest cause of adult disability. The consequences of stroke are devastating with approximately 40% of people dying within 12 months, and about 50% of survivors requiring assistance with everyday living. For a patient with acute stroke, every minute counts. Research shows that treatment with a clot busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) within 4.5 hours of symptoms improves a patient’s chance of a good recovery. Hence, rapid evaluation and treatment is critical.
Many rural and regional hospitals do not have a stroke specialist on site or lack around-the-clock access to stroke expertise. Through the Victorian Stroke Telemedicine (VST) service, a stroke consultant is only a phone call away to provide assistance to local hospital staff in the assessment and management of patients presenting with acute stroke symptoms. This enables time-critical clot busting treatment to be provided locally, reducing the need for travel to another hospital and also helps build capacity at the local hospital.