Reliability of real-time video smartphone for assessing national institutes of health stroke scale scores in acute stroke patients

Bart M. Demaerschalk, Sravanthi Vegunta, Bert B. Vargas, Qing Wu, Dwight D. Channer, Joseph G. Hentz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose: Telestroke reduces acute stroke care disparities between urban stroke centers and rural hospitals. Current technologies used to conduct remote patient assessments have high start-up costs, yet they cannot consistently establish quality timely connections. Smartphones can be used for high-quality video teleconferencing. They are inexpensive and ubiquitous among health care providers. We aimed to study the reliability of high-quality video teleconferencing using smartphones for conducting the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS). Methods: Two vascular neurologists assessed 100 stroke patients with the NIHSS. The remote vascular neurologist assessed subjects using smartphone videoconferencing with the assistance of a bedside medical aide. The bedside vascular neurologist scored patients contemporaneously. Each vascular neurologist was blinded to the other's NIHSS scores. We tested the inter-method agreement and physician satisfaction with the device. Results: We demonstrated high total NIHSS score correlation between the methods (r=0.949; P<0.001). The mean total NIHSS scores for bedside and remote assessments were 7.93±8.10 and 7.28±7.85, with ranges, of 0 to 35 and 0 to 37, respectively. Eight categories had high agreement: level of consciousness (questions), level of consciousness (commands), visual fields, motor left and right (arm and leg), and best language. Six categories had moderate agreement: level of consciousness (consciousness), best gaze, facial palsy, sensory, dysarthria, and extinction/inattention. Ataxia had poor agreement. There was high physician satisfaction with the smartphone. Conclusions: Smartphone high-quality video teleconferencing is reliable, easy to use, affordable for telestroke NIHSS administration, and has high physician satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3271-3277
Number of pages7
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Cellular phone
  • Emergency medicine
  • Stroke
  • Telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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