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International Journal of Telemedicine and Applications
Volume 2010, Article ID 916868, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2010/916868
Research Article

An Empirical Analysis of the Current Need for Teleneuromedical Care in German Hospitals without Neurology Departments

1Department of Neurology and Stroke Unit, HELIOS General Hospital Aue, Technical University Dresden, Gartenstr. 6 - 08280 Aue, Germany
2Department of Neurology, Carl-Gustav Carus University Hospital, 2-Fetcherstr. 74, 01307 Dresden, Germany
3Department of Neuroradiology, HELIOS General Hospital, 3-Nordhäuserstr. 74, 99089 Erfurt, Germany
4Department of Neurology, HELIOS General Hospital Wuppertal, Witten-Herdecke University, 4-Heusnerstr. 40, 42283 Wuppertal, Germany

Received 2 November 2009; Revised 21 March 2010; Accepted 25 May 2010

Academic Editor: Athanasios Demiris

Copyright © 2010 G. W. Ickenstein et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Indroduction. At present, modern telemedicine methods are being introduced, that may contribute to reducing lack of qualified stroke patient care, particularly in less populated regions. With the help of video conferencing systems, a so-called neuromedical teleconsultation is carried out. Methods. The study included a multicentered, completely standardized survey of physicians in hospitals by means of a computerized on-line questionnaire. Descriptive statistical methods were used for data analysis. Results. 119 acute hospitals without neurology departments were included in the study. The most important reasons for participating in a teleneuromedical network is seen as the improvement in the quality of treatment (82%), the ability to avoid unnecessary patient transport (76%), easier and faster access to stroke expertise (72%) as well as better competitiveness among medical services (67%). The most significant problem areas are the financing system of teleneuromedicine with regard to the acquisition costs of the technical equipment (43%) and the compensation for the stroke-unit center with the specialists' consultation service (31%) as well as legal aspects of teleneuromedicine (27%). Conclusions. This investigation showed that there is a high acceptance for teleneuromedicine among co-operating hospitals. However these facilities have goals in addition to improved quality in stroke treatment. Therefore the use of teleneuromedicine must be also associated with long term incentives for the overall health care system, particularly since the implementation of a teleneuromedicine network system is time consuming and associated with high implementation costs.