St. Peter’s Health Launches New Telehealth Program for Stroke Patients

October 10, 2019

St. Peter’s Health has launched the newest telehealth program available to Helena patients through the organization’s affiliation with Salt Lake City-based University of Utah Health (U of U). The TeleStroke program allows physicians and other clinicians in the St. Peter’s Health emergency room in Helena to consult directly with a neurologist at the U of U. The program is available 24/7 for patients, and consultations occur using a secure audio-visual platform. 

“In just a little over one week, this program and the input we received from a U of U neurologist has impacted our management of acute stroke for at least three patients,” said Dr. Ashley Coggins, Executive Medical Director of Hospital-Based Services. “Having this level of expertise available to our team and integrated into our clinical decision-making is such a tremendous benefit to our patients, and we are incredibly excited to offer this service to Helena.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), strokes are the fifth leading cause of death and nearly 800,000 people suffer from a stroke each year in the United States. The TeleStroke program is the third telehealth program between St. Peter’s Health and the U of U, which entered into a formal academic affiliation in late 2018. St. Peter’s has participated in the TeleBurn program for over a decade, and launched TeleICU in November 2018. 

“Seconds and minutes matter when treating an individual who is suffering from a stroke,” said Dr. Trent Jensen, Emergency Physician. “The partnership brings added expertise to the bedside. The neurologist has access to all of the patient’s medical information and is able to complete a patient assessment. This allows us to work together to determine the best plan of care for the patient.” 

According to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shelly Harkins, the benefits of working with an academic medical center extend well beyond telehealth partnerships and are a key driver in St. Peter’s journey to bring gold standard health care to the community. “Through our affiliation with the U of U, our staff can participate in weekly online education broadcasts and we’re working with other health systems in the intermountain west to attract and retain nurses and other clinical talent to the region,” said Harkins. “This partnership will continue to grow and evolve as we identify more opportunities to deliver gold standard care to our community.”