Background: Prior published studies reported disparities in timely treatment with tPA for stroke patients who were older, African American or female. In 2015, Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) redesigned its acute stroke care work flow for the entire region, which included immediate evaluation by a stroke neurologist via video, an expedited IV tPA treatment program, rapid CT angiographic investigation, and expedited transfer of appropriate patients with large vessel occlusion (LVO) for endovascular stroke treatment (EST). We sought to evaluate whether disparities exist in acute stroke treatment within the redesigned process.
Methods: KPNC is an integrated health care system with 21 certified stroke centers serving 3.9+ millions members. All centers implemented the new program by January 2016. Using clinical data from 1/1/16 to 7/10/16, we evaluated the frequency of IV tPA administration by gender, race, and age groups after implementation of the new process. We performed multivariate analysis with age, gender, race-ethnicity, Kaiser membership, mode of ED arrival (by ambulance vs. private transportation) to assess for any disparities in achieving DTN time.
Results: Post implementation, we found no significant differences in the rates of IV t-pa administration in eligible patients based on race, gender, age category (<40 years, 40-64, 65-79, ≥80), Kaiser membership, or mode of ED arrival. In multivariate analysis for factors influencing DTN time, no differences were seen for DTN time <60 minutes. Age (OR=1.02, 95% CI 1.00-1.03, p=0.03) and arrival by ambulance (OR=5.01, 95% CI 3.01-8.60, p<0.001) were associated with a faster DTN time of <30 minutes.
Conclusions: Thus far, we have found no disparities in the use of IV tPA or DTN time for a large integrated healthcare system after implementation of the Stroke EXPRESS program. A consistent standardized approach to acute stroke care may help to reduce disparities on the basis of race, gender, age, or even membership in healthcare system.