17th October 201911 Minutes

We have just completed an extensive study of Mobile Stroke Units (MSUs) in Australia, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Norway and the United States of America.

Our study included a detailed review of the efficacy of stroke management solutions, including the impact on economic and social costs downstream. We have also performed a detailed assessment of people, process and technology required to implement such solutions in other countries. Whilst our example shared below is focused on the UAE, a MSU can be implemented by any health system.

By adopting a Mobile Stroke Unit model, a health system can increase stroke survival rates, reduce disabilities and optimise the associated economic and social cost of care for stroke survivors through drastically decreasing “alarm-to-scan” and “scan-to-treatment” times.

Given our extensive intellectual capital (research and analysis) on the topic, we are able to develop a high-level business case within a few weeks for a local, regional or national health system.

Opportunity to Revolutionise Stroke Management in United Arab Emirates

By adopting a Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) model, the UAE can increase stroke survival rates, reduce disabilities and optimise the associated economic and social cost of care for stroke survivors through drastically decreasing “alarm-to-scan” and “scan-to-treatment” times.

1. Situation
  • There are two key types of stroke: ischemic and haemorrhagic
  • Globally, ischemic stroke is the most common, occurring 85% of the time; but whilst haemorrhagic strokes only occur 15% of the time, they are responsible for 40% of deaths
  • In the UAE, stroke is the third leading cause of death – “10,000 people suffer from stroke… every year”
  • Stroke is the “number one cause of disability” – with only “10% of victims reaching a hospital on time to make a full recovery”
  • Stroke “is estimated to cost the UAE around AED 3 billion per year, with additional cost to the economy of a further AED 4 billon in lost productivity, disability and informal care
  • The UAE had no stroke units in 2014 versus 12 in 2019, which is a major step in the right direction
  • “The average age of occurrence of stroke is 45 in UAE which is much lower than the world age of 60 years”

Stroke is a major problem for health systems

2. Complication
  • 2,000,000 brain cells/ neurons are lost every minute after a stroke, which translates to “Time is Brain”
  • The earlier the stroke patient is diagnosed and treated, the better the patient outcomes, leading to a significant reduction in total cost of treating the patient over the life of their associated disabilities

Typical traditional model for stroke treatment is:

  • Patient transported via ambulance into Accident & Emergency (A&E) or a specialist stroke unit
  • Type of stroke determined by CT scan (a stroke patient cannot be treated until the type of stroke is determined)
  • Treatment is administered based on stroke type (ischemic and haemorrhagic)

Through-out the entire process (from acute symptom onset to treatment), significant time is lost, which results in higher mortality risk and additional complications downstream

Correct diagnosis and time to treatment is crucial

3. Question

Despite great progress made in stroke intervention in the UAE in recent times, what can the UAE do to deliver transformative change to increase post stroke survival rates, reduce disabilities associated with stroke, improve patient quality of life post stroke and reduce the associated economic burden on the stroke patient, their family and wider society?

4. Solution
  • Instead of patients being transported to A&E or a specialist Stroke Unit, losing valuable time, a specialist Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) can travel to the patient to deliver emergency point-of-care diagnosis and treatment onsite
  • The Mobile Stroke Unit solution was pioneered in Germany back in 2011 and such solutions are being delivered in Australia, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Norway and the US

Key Mobile Stroke Unit attributes typically include:

  • appropriately trained emergency response team (e.g. driver, paramedic, critical care nurse and CT technician, optional Vascular Neurologist)
  • a Computerized Tomography (CT) scanner
  • a point-of-care laboratory system (e.g., serum sodium, potassium, chloride, ionized calcium, total CO2, glucose, etc.)
  • a telehealth solution, where a Vascular Neurologist and Pharmacist can video call into the Ambulance to provide guidance to the paramedic team
  • an Artificial Intelligence solution to provide on-site diagnosis to rule out stroke-like symptoms (e.g. migraines, seizures, Bells Palsy, inner ear problems etc.), which may not be related to stroke

The most important benefit of the Mobile Stroke Unit is rapid diagnosis of the stroke type and treatment with intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) can be started more rapidly if appropriate

A randomised controlled trial shows, treatment with Intravenous TPA can be started within an average of 38 minutes when patients are treated in an Mobile Stroke Unit compared with 73 minutes under the existing model

Evidence shows on-site stroke treatment improves patient outcomes

Source:
https://www.stroke.org/understand-stroke/what-is-stroke/hemorrhagic-stroke/; The Epidemiology of Stroke in the Middle East, El-Jha et al 2016; https://www.arabhealthonline.com/magazine/en/latest-issue/2019-show-issue/mechanical-thrombectomy-for-acute-ischaemic-stroke-in-uae.html; The mobile stroke unit and management of acute stroke in rural settings, Shuaib and Terakihi 2018; https://gulfnews.com/uae/health/know-the-signs-of-a-stroke-and-where-to-get-help-1.65494094; Curzon Consulting analysis

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