The NSW Telestroke Service has been fully rolled out across New South Wales, transforming healthcare in rural and regional communities.
This life-saving service connects patients with a network of specialist stroke doctors via video consultation, managed by Prince of Wales Hospital. It provides rapid 24/7 access to stroke diagnosis and treatment. The service has so far delivered treatment to over 3,000 stroke patients at 23 rural and regional hospitals in the state.
Jointly funded by the NSW and Commonwealth governments, the A$21.7 million ($15 million) service was implemented in collaboration with eHealth NSW, the Agency for Clinical Innovation and the Ministry of Health, with support from the Stroke Foundation.
WHY IT MATTERS
Stroke is one of the biggest killers in Australia. In 2020, around 27,000 people in the country experienced stroke for the first time. In that same year, it was estimated that stroke cost the country A$6.2 billion in direct financial impact. Now, nearly half a million Australians are living with the effects of stroke.
According to NSW Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor, the telestroke service is critical for hospitals in rural communities. It is said that people living in regional areas are 17% more likely to suffer from a stroke than those in major cities.
“Every year, about 19,000 residents in NSW have a stroke, and more than a third of those hospitalised are from regional and rural areas,” the official further noted.
Telestroke is also regarded for its role in eliminating geographical challenges in the fight against stroke. Through the service, patients are being seen and treated faster in regional hospitals than in their metropolitan counterparts, Minister Taylor emphasised.
“Our clinicians can deliver better outcomes for patients exhibiting signs of stroke by harnessing this cutting-edge technology – irrespective of location,” added Professor Ken Butcher, medical director of the NSW Telestroke Service and director of Clinical Neuroscience at Prince of Wales Hospital.
THE LARGER TREND
Western Australia’s Department of Health is now working to get its own telestroke service running 24/7 as it enters the second phase of its implementation. This also comes as the service has seen huge demand from South West and Great Southern regions.