Stroke Patients Are Counting on Congress to Protect Access to Telehealth
Telehealth is a proven asset for stroke care. Research shows that telehealth use can lead to faster diagnoses, greater access to poststroke care, and quicker treatment time in the emergency room. As telehealth has become more widely integrated into regular care methods, these studies, reports and testimonials from patients and providers have praised the safe, convenient care that telehealth provides for stroke care and management.
Telehealth access has been highlighted by patients for its accessibility and the quality care it provides, and it enables patients who live far from specialty stroke care providers to receive equitable care while saving time and money. Further, telestroke treatment allows stroke survivors to maintain independence through at-home treatment and programs.
“I began using telehealth services about two months into the pandemic,” said George Hoffman of Maryland in a testimonial submitted to the American Heart Association. “It has been a game changer for me and my wife. I am not blind, but my vision has not been the same since my stroke and has prevented me from driving for five years.”
“Before telehealth, I needed to rely on my wife, public transportation, or community ride services to get to and from routine health appointments,” Mr. Hoffman said. “I’d say I used to miss 30+ percent of my appointments for various reasons outside my control causing frustration and unnecessary fees — but that’s not the case any longer. Telehealth has saved me time, money and endless frustration trying to coordinate rides to and from routine appointments.”
Stoke survivor Jack W. Gaddy, found that he had less independence when trying to complete everyday tasks following his stroke. Through telehealth rehabilitation appointments, Mr. Gaddy has been able to attend regular occupational therapy which has supported his journey to regaining mobility. Mr. Gaddy highlighted the positive experience of his telehealth journey, saying “(Telerehabilitation) is one-on-one; it’s very personal and very easy to be immersed in the telehealth session.” Stories like Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Gaddy’s are not rare, telehealth is a proven method for supplying convenient, high-quality care for stroke patients.
The access virtual care provides is particularly vital for rural and underserved communities. According to research conducted by researchers at Columbia University and presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2022, remote blood pressure monitoring is shown to be particularly beneficial for post-stroke care for those who live in communities where they do not have regular access to specialty stroke providers. Another study found that telehealth is a safe and effective method for diagnosing stroke patients with symptoms such as dysphagia poststroke. The ability to easily obtain a diagnosis can be a life changing tool for the thousands of patients who suffer strokes each year.
Providers are also praising the benefits of telestroke treatment. In fact, virtual care use can maintain similar outcomes to in-person care, leading to more flexibility and lower levels of burnout for health care staff. In one 2022 study, telehealth resulted in unchanged levels of outpatient visits when compared to traditional in-person care. With this life saving tool, hospital systems report more rapid diagnosis and treatment for stroke patients. Telehealth also allows for the successful delivery of memory skills training, blood pressure monitoring and occupational therapy for stroke patients.
To protect these incredible stroke care advancements and enable lasting virtual care access for the patients who rely on it, Congress must act now. The U.S. House passed the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID–19 Act of 2022 (H.R. 4040) earlier this year with strong, bipartisan support. Lawmakers must build on this positive momentum for action by extending critical flexibilities to protect access to telehealth before the end of the year.
Learn more about how Congress can act now to safeguard access to telehealth and avert a telehealth cliff HERE.
ABOUT TELEHEALTH ACCESS FOR AMERICA
Telehealth Access for America (TAFA) is a public education campaign supported by leaders in health care committed to better care, expanded patient choice, and protecting access to critical telehealth services. Learn more and take action today at www.telehealthaccessforamerica.org.