Few would argue that the Mayo Clinic is the gold standard in healthcare research. The facility’s main campus in Rochester, Minnesota has been around since the 1890s and employs more than 32,000 people. So when Mayo recently published a study on the cost-effectiveness of telestroke care, hospital CFOs across the country paid close attention.
The study, published last month in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, concludes that telestroke programs indeed offer financial benefits, not just societal advantages.
Using data from both the Mayo Clinic and Georgia Health Sciences University telestroke networks, researchers estimated that a rural hospital would save more than $100,000 annually compared to a hospital without telestroke capabilities.
“The upfront costs associated with setting up the telestroke technology are quickly offset by the financial gains that result from a higher proportion of patients receiving clot-busting drugs and the reduced stroke-related disability and subsequent reduced need for rehabilitation, nursing home care and assistance at home,” says Bart Demaerschalk, M.D., director of the Mayo Clinic Telestroke Program and co-author of the study.
Most people assume that Mayo operates geographically close to its famous headquarters, but it also has a large footprint in Florida and Arizona. Mayo began using telemedicine technology in 2007 after research revealed that 40 percent of Arizona residents lacked local stroke expertise. Since its inception, the Mayo Telestroke Network has conducted more than 1,500 emergency consultations across the state.
“Previous studies have demonstrated that a hub-and-spoke telestroke network is cost-effective from the societal perspective,” adds Demaerschalk. “For a relatively small amount of money, [it] can save quality years of life – so it’s a bargain really.”
The Mayo study isn’t the first one to document the financial benefits of telestroke technology. But it’s nice when one of the best-known “brands” in American healthcare weighs in with its own convincing evidence.