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Telestroke's Role Through the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The goal of this paper is to discuss the role and utilization of telestroke services through the COVID-19 pandemic and to suggest future directions to sustain and increase patients' access to stroke expertise.

RECENT FINDINGS: Telestroke is an innovative and effective tool that has been shown to improve access, quality of care, and outcomes of patients with acute stroke syndromes in resource-limited areas for the last two decades. The COVID-19 pandemic posed a significant challenge and strained healthcare systems worldwide, but it created novel and unique opportunities to expand and increase the utilization of telehealth and telestroke services to deliver personalized healthcare across the continuum of stroke care outside of traditional settings. This rapid and widespread increase in telestroke use was facilitated by the removal of many legislative and regulatory barriers which have limited patients' access to stroke expertise for many years.

SUMMARY: As the public health emergency ends, there exists a unique opportunity to optimize and expand upon the pandemic-related rapid growth of telestroke care. Optimal utilization of telehealth and telestroke services will depend on maintaining and improving required infrastructure, laws, and regulations, particularly those governing reimbursement and licensing.

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