Swedish hospital has activated an advanced telemedicine system in the emergency rooms (ER) of its Issaquah and Ballard campuses to provide a real-time, 24/7 link between ER physicians and stroke specialists based at the Cherry Hill Campus, where Swedish's nationally recognized Stroke Program is based.

Swedish became the first hospital in western Washington to activate an advanced telemedicine system in the emergency rooms (ER) of its Issaquah and Ballard campuses to provide a real-time, 24/7 link between ER physicians and stroke specialists based at the Cherry Hill Campus, where Swedish's nationally recognized Stroke Program is based. The Swedish TeleStroke Program is part of an integrated effort to improve stroke diagnosis and treatment throughout Washington state. It is modeled after the country's first and leading program at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), a founding member of the Partners HealthCare System in Boston.

Through a secure videoconferencing network, Swedish's Stroke Program is able to provide real-time, expert assessment of patients arriving with stroke-like symptoms. Around the clock, stroke specialists based at Swedish/Cherry Hill are able to perform "virtual" bedside neurological evaluations during which they are able to examine patients, review brain images and quickly select the best acute stroke treatments in collaboration with local ER staffs.

Stroke is the third largest cause of death and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability.  According to the American Stroke Association, about 700,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year. That means, on average, a stroke occurs every 45 seconds and about every three minutes, someone dies of stroke.

MGH clinicians provided software and TeleStroke implementation support to Swedish over the past several months. In preparation for phase one of the project — in which Swedish implemented TeleStroke support for its Ballard and Issaquah campuses — a total of 14 Swedish Stroke Team clinicians were trained on the TeleStroke system, primarily via videoconferencing. That group included seven neurologists, three nurse practitioners, one physician assistant, and three registered nurses. In addition, the ER staffs at Swedish's Ballard and Issaquah campuses have been trained in the use of this TeleStroke equipment.