Background: Greater than 50% of stroke patients are discharged home from the hospital, most with continuing care needs. In the absence of evidence-based transitional care interventions for stroke patients, procedures likely vary by hospital even among stroke-certified hospitals with requirements for transitional care protocols. We examined the standard of transitional care among NC hospitals enrolled in the COMPASS study comparing stroke-certified and non-certified hospitals.
Methods: Hospitals completed an online, self-administered, web-based questionnaire to assess usual care related to hospitals’ transitional care strategy, stroke program structural components, discharge planning processes, and post-discharge patient management and follow-up. Response frequencies were compared between stroke certified versus non-certified hospitals using chi-squared statistics and Fisher’s exact test.
Results: As of July 2016, the first 27 hospitals enrolled (of 40 expected) completed the survey (67% certified as a primary or comprehensive stroke center). On average, 54% of stroke patients were discharged home. Processes supporting hospital-to-home care transitions, such as timely follow-up calls and follow-up with neurology, were infrequent and overall less common for non-certified hospitals (Table). Assessment of post-discharge outcomes was particularly infrequent among non-certified sites (11%) compared with certified sites (56%). Uptake of transitional care management billing codes and quality metrics was low for both certified and non-certified hospitals.
Conclusion: Significant variation exists in the infrastructure and processes supporting care transitions for stroke patients among COMPASS hospitals in NC. COMPASS as a pragmatic cluster-randomized trial will compare outcomes among hospitals that implement a CMS-directed model of transitional care with those hospitals that provide highly variable transitional care services.