The VST program is an initiative led by the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, which enables clinicians to collaborate across organisational boundaries to deliver the best care possible to stroke patients, irrespective of their location.
The program is a virtual system that links rural and regional Victorian hospitals to a network of Melbourne-based neurologists who can provide treatment advice on patients who present to the Emergency Department within four and a half hours of their stroke symptoms.
Through new state of the art mobile computing technology and software, the neurologist can remotely examine patients at the bedside, review brain imaging and provide rapid diagnosis and treatment advice, irrespective of their geographic location.
The benefits of the VST program are to:
decrease delays in diagnosis and treatment
ensure appropriate and timely stroke care
increase access to time critical therapy
ensure equity of care
Neurologist Thomas Kraemer said stroke affects more than 50,000 Australians every year.
"Every 10 minutes one Australian will have a stroke that can result in a mild to severe level of disability or death. Stroke is the second leading cause of death and leading cause of disability in Australia.
"Stroke is a medical emergency, and medical help is required as soon as possible to ensure that appropriate treatment can be received. By using the new VST program, West Gippsland Hospital emergency department staff now have access to additional specialist information and advice at the touch of a button," Dr Kraemer said.
The VST program is unique in Australia and facilitates rapid clinical decision-making and treatment of stroke by seamlessly connecting rural and regional emergency departments to a roster of Melbourne-based neurologists. The neurologists are accessible every day of the year, 24 hours a day.
WGHG staff ready to go live with the VST program are (l-r): Ashley Murray (VST side coordinator), April Morton (ED associate nurse unit manager), Gary Campain (director of medicine), Issam Mutier (senior medical registrar & VST clinical lead). On teledoc screen is Teddy Vu (VST neurologist).