Doctor Candice Delcourt
University of New South Wales
26 September 2019

In Australia, there is an excess burden of stroke in regional and rural areas and patients do not have the same access to specialised care as in metropolitan areas.

Last month the Australian Government committed to strengthening Australians’ health through a $440 million commitment for research to prevent illness and deliver better care.

A total of 298 new projects received funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Doctor Candice Delcourt from the University of New South Wales will receive more than $400,000 to improve stroke care in regional and rural Australia.

According to The Stroke Foundation, someone has a stroke every nine minutes in Australia.

In Australia, patients in rural and remote areas are more likely to have strokes than people who live in cities but have poorer access to medical care, said Dr Delcourt.

Through this funding, Dr Delcourt aims to improve outcomes for patients with stroke in rural communities by using video conference calls (telemedicine) to enable doctors in the country to access expert help when they are looking after stroke patients or those with symptoms of stroke.

Video conferences between patients, their general practitioners, local hospital staff and metropolitan stroke specialists can save a life, said Dr Delcourt.

Dr Delcourt will also investigate the quality, cost and ease of access to services, such as hospitals, specialists and advanced stroke therapies for these individuals with the aim to improve triage of acute stroke syndromes, using advanced brain imaging, and combining these with telemedicine links to stroke specialists in tertiary hospitals.

There is a significant gap between guideline-based recommendations and practice in the management of acute stroke and transient neurological attacks in regional and rural Australia, said Dr Delcourt.

During the next five years, Dr Delcourt aims to develop, assess and implement pathways aimed at patients, primary care providers, and regional hospitals and specialists to reduce these gaps and improve health outcomes for regional and rural Australians who experience stroke.

By improving diagnosis, providing more timely management and enhancing secondary prevention and patient education, it is expected that the risk of stroke or recurrence will decrease in rural and regional areas in Australia, said Dr Delcourt.

A full list of grant recipients is available on NHMRC’s website.