A message from the Australian Stroke Alliance’s executive team
Fired-up by the success of Melbourne’s mobile stroke unit, our team is ready to embark on a national program to transform the way health carers reach and treat people who experience a stroke.
It’s all about saving time and delivering urgent treatment – especially to those who, until now, have been left in such a vulnerable position due to the tyranny of distance.
We are taking the emergency department to the patient.
Behind this apparently simple concept is a complex program that will take five years to establish. Based on our experience of stroke care advancements globally, we expect we will change international treatment protocols, save lives, reduce disability and deliver savings across the healthcare system.
From the drawing board to the road and sky
Currently, there are no brain imaging devices in aircraft anywhere in the world.
We are partnering with two innovative Australian companies, EMVision and Micro-X, to design two miniaturised brain scanners that can be placed in road, helicopter and fixed-wing ambulances.
The EMVision team is already working closely with the Alliance’s clinical experts at the Royal Melbourne and Princess Alexandra hospitals. Since Stage 1 of the Stroke Golden Hour program (2019-2020), the team has made great progress refining brain imaging outputs. Team members have developed a plan for a technical validation study and are on track to commence the study in early 2022 with the next generation prototype of the stroke helmet. This will lay the foundations for pivotal clinical and pre-hospital studies in 2023 and beyond.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service will be a champion partner and we can’t wait to see a Red Belly jet over the outback, carrying one of our Australian-designed devices to a patient.
Taking metro stroke ambulance knowledge to rural Australia
While the super lightweight devices are being developed for flight, we are also pushing forward with devices for stroke-capable road ambulances in a program separate to the mobile stroke ambulance work which also continues to be refined. We hope to see the first stroke-capable road ambulance at work in NSW’s Hunter region towards the end of 2021, with Liverpool to follow.
We’re grateful to be working with the Council of Ambulance Authorities and each ambulance service around the country to improve capacity to diagnose stroke at the scene of the incident.
We are working closely with our partners at Ambulance Victoria and the Queensland Ambulance Service for develop stroke capable ambulances in 2022 and beyond.
We are keen to share the knowledge of our researcher radiographers, stroke nurse practitioners, paramedics and neurologists who are constantly fine-tuning the services provided in the back of the mobile stroke unit.
The beginning of a new era - 2023
By the end of 2024, we hope to have rugged brain scanners flying around the country, providing accurate and sensitive imaging to help diagnose stroke. They will be continually assessed and refined, thanks to the deep involvement of our assessment teams who will use AI and other tools to improve performance.
Our project teams will prepare to integrate lightweight imaging devices into emergency aircraft in 2023-4. Our first focus, though, will be the co-design of new app-based tools with our frontline clinical teams.
Behind every stage will be detailed education, telehealth and optimisation and evaluation platforms.
A powerful telehealth network will be introduced to enhance stoke consultation, either in an ambulance, on a mobile stroke unit, in a metro or regional hospital or during a local admission. Developed by members of our own team, the telehealth network will connect remote health workers with expert neurological opinion, 24-hours a day. The system will provide real-time assessment of a patient using video and audio, as well as sharing of brain scans for accurate diagnosis. One platform will offer an entire solution that, until now, has required four or five vendors to pitch in.
As well, it will provide essential data to our optimisation team who will constantly gauge workflows to help health services adapt to the specific needs, particularly rural, remote and Indigenous communities, ensuring resources and staff are where they need to be.
We expect this system will provide an essential service way beyond the life of our five-year program.
As we progress, we look forward to partnering with the Australian healthcare community and those who will benefit from the new services, particularly those in Indigenous communities and people living in rural and remote settings. Our partner, the Stroke Foundation, will be an essential conduit in this process.
We hope this snapshot provides a taste of the road (and sky) ahead. This is a massive joint effort and we look forward to liaising with an extraordinary range of organisations.
We plan to update you as we achieve our milestones and take stroke care beyond the cities.
A message from Dr Damien Easton, Chief Executive Officer
” I am proud to be leading the national team and our Alliance continues to grow. We have formed our technical project working groups to drive development of our novel lightweight brain scanners in partnership with Australian powerhouses EMvision and Micro-X. We have assembled multidisciplinary clinical project teams, headed by our clinical implementation partners such as RFDS and state ambulance services, paving the way for pre-hospital road and air ambulance trials across rural Australia.
In particular I am excited to convene the national clinical education working group which will give a voice to clinicians in rural and remote Australia. These experts witness the patient impacts of limited access to critical stroke diagnostic imaging and the complexity of referral/retrieval pathways in the regions. Their experiences will be critical in designing our approaches for embedding and validating new, technology-enabled models of pre-hospital stroke care.
Our collective goal is to co-design and lay digital telestroke foundations across the Alliance’s remote test beds in the first 24 months. These capabilities will transform Australia into a massive test bed for new Stroke Capable Ambulances and Australia’s first Air Mobile Stroke Units. When our first lightweight scanners are ready, we plug and play. And that’s just the beginning.”
A message from Dr Lara Bishop, Chief Operating Officer
“In my role as Chief Operating Officer (interim) I will work closely with the CEO to progress the strategic goals of the Australian Stroke Alliance to deliver urgent, life-saving stroke care to all Australians. I am passionate about bringing time critical stroke treatment to all Australians, especially those living in rural and remote areas, having worked with the Royal Flying Doctor Service for six years, before joining the Alliance.
I will lead the day-to-day operations of the Alliance and will be responsible for the effective management of financial, physical and human resources, driving a positive workplace culture, managing risk, building strategic partnerships with a range of stakeholders, and enhancing the profile of the organisation within the broader community.
I look forward to developing strong and cooperative relationships with a broad range of internal and external stakeholders within the Alliance’s extensive partner network of universities, corporate partners, research organisations, not-for-profit organisations, healthcare organisations, Indigenous organisations and consumers and carers.”
A message from Amanda Place, Chief Communications Officer
“As we begin five years of endeavour, I’m looking forward to liaising with our many national partners, to share the Stroke Alliance’s news and the myriad opportunities to become involved.
My fundamental goal is to be a conduit between our researchers and the many Australians who will either put our initiatives into practice, or who will benefit from them.
I’ll be helping to build partnerships so the great work coming out of the Stroke Alliance is embraced and understood.
In particular, I’ll work with First Nations doctors who are members of the Stroke Alliance team as we seek to partner with Indigenous organisations to address the disproportionate impact of stroke on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
I’ll be reporting on stories of stand-out clinical interventions and our trailblazing partners who are shaking-up the nation’s response to stroke.
Please get in touch if you would like to share your ideas or connections.”