The CDC reports that, on average, around 136 million people come into emergency departments (ED) every year in the US. Stroke and transient ischemic attacks account for a combined 6.4 million visits, 3.5 million come in for severe and sudden headaches, and almost 2 million visit due to traumatic brain injuries.
The conditions above require fast treatment from a neurologist. Still, for hospitals without a neurologist on call, those patients may not get the care they need promptly and place a significant burden on already over-extended medical teams who may not have the expertise to treat them accurately. Teleneurology is stepping up to the plate in many of these situations, not only resulting in better patient outcomes but allowing practices to balance their in-house resources more efficiently. When an ED utilizes a virtual neurologist to supplement elements of patient/provider interactions, the care needed happens faster and with additional accuracy because the patient has direct access to a specialist. Below we explore how teleneurology provides much-needed relief for patients and hospital systems.
Fills in gaps during neurologist shortages
It is estimated that one out of every five healthcare workers has quit medicine since COVID started in 2020. Whether it is because of burnout, the search for more work/life balance, a frustration with traditional medical settings, or a combo of all of the above, the gap in providers and lack of specialists like neurologists are problematic for many. Telemedicine delivers experts on-call during all hours, filling in the gaps that come with a shortage of in-person options.
Less wait times for emergent patients
Having these virtual resources also means that wait and reaction times are significantly reduced. While emergent cases are often seen quicker than non-emergent patients, getting a correct diagnosis can take longer if a specialist is not available. In addition, utilizing an online platform at smaller community hospitals also removes long drives and other potential distance barriers for those living in less populated and rural areas.
Patients have a better experience
Telemedicine and teleneurology not only deliver faster care to emergent patients suffering from strokes, seizures, concussions, and brain or spinal cord injuries but also provide a better overall experience throughout the care journey. Virtual appointments can deliver more continuity of care, especially for those who have mobility issues due to their condition. By offering a more comprehensive care plan, patients tend to experience better outcomes.
Hospital staff is better utilized
Quality coverage during surges or night hours can be a significant stress for any ED; however, having back-up through a telemedicine provider can help staff assign cases faster, get patients seen quicker, organize the entire flow of the ED, and lessen provider burnout. Furthermore, while the number of physicians decreases, the number of nurse practitioners (NP) is increasing, growing by 28% over the next six years. Supplementing ED teams with NPs and telemedicine specialists, like teleneurologists, can create a more robust care system in a time of shortages.
Teleneurologists can help bridge this gap in emergent care
Treating emergency neurological conditions can be complicated. Often, quick action is needed, and every minute counts. Virtual neurology not only helps hospitals maximize resources and improve efficiency, but it provides patients with faster diagnosis and better health outcomes. To learn more about how utilizing a telemedicine platform in conjunction with an established emergency department can result in better results for neurology patients and hospitals, contact VirtualMed Staff today.
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