Teleradiology system in Slovakia cuts head injury treatment time

June 18, 2001

While teleradiology can bring access to healthcare to underserved areas, in medical emergencies this access can mean the difference between life and death. One such online emergency system is ER-Slovakia, a full-service telemedicine network that

While teleradiology can bring access to healthcare to underserved areas, in medical emergencies this access can mean the difference between life and death.

One such online emergency system is ER-Slovakia, a full-service telemedicine network that connects all 15 hospitals in southwestern Slovakia to a system designed for emergency medical consultation. The system allows direct upload of data from CT, MRI, and other imaging systems. It was first tested in this region of Slovakia, where approximately one million residents live within 50 miles of the Nove Zamky Hospital Neurocenter.

"Head injuries are the most common cause of death in our society," said Juraj Gubric of West Trend Encore, operator of the ER-Slovakia system in Bratislava. "The death rate of severe head injuries reaches 60% to 70% of those injured."

After an accident, patients with head injuries are transported to the nearest CT, and images are uploaded to the ER-Slovakia consulting system, which guarantees diagnostic response within 20 minutes. Patients are then transported accordingly.

The system was developed after local analysis showed that earlier diagnosis of head injury would provide the best opportunity to improve outcomes. The teleradiology consultations have clear goals:

?accelerate diagnosis
?start proper treatment as quickly as possible
?provide qualified evaluation of treatment by subspecialists at the Neurocenter


Using the ER-Slovakia system has reduced time to treatment in some cases from six or eight hours to 90 minutes, Gubric said. On average, 33% of patients are referred for further diagnostic evaluation, and 77% are hospitalized in the Neurocenter. Gubric believes if more hospitals used the system, specialists other than neuroradiologists and neurosurgeons would be able to consult effectively.

Beyond the hospitals in the immediate region, Gubric is planning to enlist 10 other so-called high-end hospitals to join the ER-Slovakia network to improve communication and boost the consulting power for the rest of the country.

Another benefit of the project is the possibility of exchanging patient information among the hospitals on the network, including imaging studies, without the usual information flow problems, Gubric said. Smaller hospitals without CT and without the possibility of acquiring such equipment in the near future will thus have the ability to view results of all examinations.