A study of a mobile video conferencing system — where paramedics accompanying patients in ambulances confer with doctors through computer tablets — shows it can produce stroke assessments on a par with those done at the hospital bedside.

Such a system could help stroke patients receive treatments more promptly and thus reduce the risk of disability and death.

The Improving Treatment with Rapid Evaluation of Acute Stroke via Mobile Telemedicine (iTREAT) study is based on a low-cost computer tablet that is like having the hospital doctor in the ambulance with the patient alongside the paramedic.

The iTREAT tablet is suction-mounted to the wall of the ambulance. It is connected to a portable modem and antenna, and communicates through encrypted video signals. The system allows the doctor to confer with the patient and the paramedic.

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