Understanding a stroke patient’s journey
by Antonella Cachia, Marketing Executive, 6PM Group
Stroke occurs approximately 152,000 times a year in the UK; that is one every 3 minutes 27 seconds. Stroke remains the largest cause of complex disability and the fourth most common cause of death.
Is technology assisting stroke care?
New technology development, backed by the latest research has made a significant contribution to the standard of care in hospitals and the community. This in turn is having a positive impact on patient survival. According to the Stroke Association, the number of stroke-related deaths has decreased by more than 40 per cent in 20 years. Today, the patient’s journey from diagnosis to treatment and after-care is significantly more complex than it was in the 1990s. It includes a number of distinct steps, each one of which aims to optimise both treatment and patient experience.
An important advantage is that the quality of care delivered can be monitored and evaluated at each step so changes can be made to achieve best practice where they are most needed.
Stroke patient’s journey
Looking at a stroke patient’s journey as a pathway enables for a better understanding of the condition from onset to rehabilitation and recovery. Let us embark on this journey together and divide the process into simple steps:
Step 1 – Case assessment upon admission to A&E
Upon a suspected stroke, the patient will be admitted to accident and emergency. Medical staff will want to know as much as possible about the symptoms, and will carry out assessments to find out whether you do have the condition and what might have caused it. Your blood pressure will be taken immediately as well as blood tests to measure the sugar and cholesterol levels, and how quickly your blood clots.
Step 2 – Scanning
The patient should receive a brain scan within 24 hours of the appearance of the symptoms. According to the SSNAP report, 19% of hospitals scan within 45 minutes of admission. The scan will help determine where in your brain the stroke happened and weather this was caused by a blood clot (ischaemic stroke) or by bleeding (haemorrhagic stroke).
Step 3 – Thrombolysis
If it has been confirmed, through a scan that the patient has a blood clot (ischaemic stroke) as the cause of their stoke which according to the SSNAP report accounts to 88% of patients , a medication that helps break up clots, to restore blood flow to the brain is given. This treatment is called thrombolysis and it must be administered within the four-and-a-half hours from the onset of symptoms to be effective.
Step 4 – Stroke Unit
Following the initial assessment, the patient will be transferred to a stroke unit – a centre specialised in the management of the first 72 hours of care. This is crucial to good outcomes. Research shows that patients who are looked after in a dedicated stroke unit have a reduced risk of disability and mortality and are more likely to be living at home one year after the stroke.
Step 5 – Specialist assessments and therapies
Within 4 hours of admission to the stroke unit, patients will be assessed by a stroke consultant and several X-ray images are taken. In addition, patients are seen by an occupational therapist because in 80% of the cases stroke patients require occupational therapy. This therapy improves the chances of returning to independent living. Another essential component of stroke rehabilitation is physiotherapy as a stroke can damage brain regions that control movement, causing weakness or paralysis, usually on one side of the body. At times, speech and language therapy is required after a stroke experience.
Step 6 – Discharge Process
The recovery process from a stroke is rarely complete when it’s time to leave hospital. It usually continues for several months, either at home or in long-term facility after discharge. Hence, before the patient leaves hospital, the stroke team will prepare a discharge plan. The aim of this letter is to ensure that the individual will continue to receive the treatment and support required.
There is no hiding about the fact that stroke units operate in a highly time-pressured environment which makes it even harder to capture precise stroke data within the strict thrombolysis four and a half hour time frame.
“StrokePad™ is a comprehensive digital patient record, for patients with acute stroke. It’s a tablet based system, which means that it is fully mobile and it allows any member of the clinical team to enter data at any point in the process of clinical care. It saves time, because of the various features that the system has, it allows us to automate various administrative tasks, so as to make everything faster and simpler for the user, while maintain the quality of the patient data that is recorded”. Dr Parashkev Nachev, Honorary Consultant, Neurologist
StrokePad is the only mobile EPR solution for stroke treatment in the UK that has the ability to encompass the entire management pathway from admission to discharge, by collecting comprehensive real-time data at the point of care with zero administrative overhead.