An expansion of telemedicine services is strengthening Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s ability to quickly treat patients suffering from stroke.


Houston Methodist’s new TeleNeurology Service enables Houston Methodist Sugar Land physicians and nurse practitioners to access the skills and expertise of board-certified vascular neurologists during off-peak hours such as nights, weekends and holidays. The service provides real-time, interactive communication with a stroke expert – using sophisticated videoconferencing technology – and can even be accessed right from the patient’s bedside.


“This is a great tool for our staff and a real benefit for stroke patients,” said Maureen Lall, director of the Houston Methodist Neuroscience & Spine Center at Sugar Land. “The TeleNeurology Service operates from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekdays and 24 hours on weekends and holidays so we can quickly and easily access a vascular neurologist for consults to determine the appropriate course of action for each patient.”


James Ling, M.D., the hospital’s stroke program director, said the service is an extension of Houston Methodist Sugar Land’s capabilities for treating stroke patients. The hospital recently earned the American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award.


“Time is always critical when treating stroke, and the TeleNeurology Service gives us rapid access to experts in the event that there is no vascular neurologist in the hospital when a patient presents or suffers a stroke in the ICU,” Ling said. “Being able to reach someone quickly to discuss symptoms and treatment options is extremely valuable.”


Houston Methodist Sugar Land deployed portable videoconferencing carts in its Emergency Department and ICU, as well as the hospital’s Emergency Care Center in Sienna Plantation, to enable staff to quickly access the TeleNeurology Service.


“This is an excellent use of technology that will save lives,” said Larry Tran, M.D., medical director of the Neuroscience & Spine Center. “It takes less than a minute to access a board-certified stroke expert on the TeleNeurology Service, and once connected, the vascular neurologist can quickly review patient symptoms and interact with the care team until the patient is stabilized. It’s a tremendous step forward in stroke care.”