Telestroke was first introduced in Ontario as a pilot project in 2002 and is now a key strategy to achieve equitable access to high quality care for stroke for all Ontarians. Through the Ontario Telestroke Program, many patients living in and around communities lacking a stroke specialist are able to access the benefit of treatment with thrombolysis, or tPA, a best practice standard of care for acute ischemic stroke. Telestroke supports 20 of 38 (53%) hospitals in Ontario that currently provide thrombolysis.
Given the rapid growth of Telestroke services over the last three years and the ongoing interest in advancing the service throughout the province, the Ontario Stroke Network (OSN), the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN), and the Ontario Telestroke Steering Committee (OTSC) undertook a process to complete a comprehensive review and plan development of the Ontario Telestroke Program. Attention was paid to several areas: the planning process to determine program expansion needs and priorities; alignment with best practices in stroke care; program governance and accountabilities; policies and accountabilities for consultants; performance metrics and quality assurance; and, potential for expansion of the program beyond stroke thrombolysis and within acute care services. The process included a review of Ontario Stroke Audits, relevant literature, interviews, and previous reviews of planning initiatives of the Telestroke Program.
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