Minnesota Stroke Registry

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From 2012 to 2015, the Minnesota Stroke Registry achieved significant improvements in the percentage of patients for whom an NIHSS score was recorded (62% to 84%, P < .0001) and who were screened for dysphagia (74% to 80%, P < .0001) in 61 participating hospitals through facilitation of hospital performance improvement activities and regional education workshops for hospitals and EMS agencies.

History of Stroke Care in Minnesota

Before 2007, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) participated in the Great Lakes Regional Stroke Network, which required that each state form a statewide body of partners from multiple sectors of the health care system to address stroke care. The resulting Minnesota Stroke Partnership contributed to establishing relationships with partners, building capacity for stroke care delivery, and developing a statewide plan for stroke systems of care. Building on this groundwork, MDH established the Minnesota Stroke Registry during the 2007–2012 CDC Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program funding cycle to support efforts to implement the statewide plan. MDH then received funds from the 2012–2015 Coverdell Program to improve EMS-to-hospital transitions of care for stroke patients. During this time, Minnesota passed legislation authorizing MDH to designate hospitals as stroke centers; the state later passed an amendment requiring designated hospitals to participate in the stroke registry. The American Heart Association and other partners led the advocacy efforts for the new legislation; MDH supported these efforts with voluntary QI initiatives.

Program Implementation for the Arkansas Stroke Registry from 2012–2015

Using Coverdell funds, MDH focused on improving EMS-to-hospital transitions of care for stroke patients at 61 participating hospitals by implementing the following QI activities: (1) facilitating regional education workshops with hospitals and EMS, and (2) providing technical assistance through site visits and quarterly conference calls, and guiding performance improvement projects at participating hospitals.

Improving Outcomes Among Minnesota Stroke Patients

MDH’s efforts led to changes that improved the transition of stroke patients from EMS to hospital care. The pilot comprehensive stroke center enacted practice changes such as regularly disseminating stroke care guidelines to staff, providing EMS with feedback forms, and standardizing the use of the Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke Scale. The EMS Council active in the same county also standardized care protocols for its five local EMS agencies.

MDH’s focused technical assistance and QI initiatives also contributed to improvements in the quality of stroke care. Performance measure data from the state stroke registry of participating hospitals show improvements in 6 of the 12 key Coverdell Program quality-of-care performance measures from 2012 to 2015 (Table 1). The two measures that showed the greatest improvement over time were the percentages of patients for whom an initial NIHSS score was recorded and who were screened for dysphagia, which increased 22% and 6%, respectively.

Table 1.  Improved Coverdell Program Quality of Stroke Care Measures, 2012–2015

Table 1.  Improved Coverdell Program Quality of Stroke Care Measures, 2012–2015
Measure 2012 2015 P
Screened for dysphagia 74% 80% <.0001
Assessed for rehabilitation 98% 99% <.05
Stroke education 81% 86% <.05
Discharged on antithrombotic therapy 98% 99% <.0001
Anticoagulation therapy for atrial fibrillation/flutter 91% 95% <.01
Recording of NIHSS score 62% 84% <.0001

 Future Directions for Stroke Care in Minnesota

The Minnesota Stroke Registry reported that federal and state funding is critical to the sustainability of current program efforts, along with having the necessary data to demonstrate improved outcomes. The long-standing partnership with American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and other partners demonstrated the importance of collaboration to implement stroke systems of care. Continuing these partnerships will be instrumental to sustain efforts in supporting hospitals and EMS agencies in stroke care. The Minnesota Stroke Registry planned to continue building relationships with hospitals throughout the state and continue providing technical assistance to hospitals interested in improving stroke systems of care, focusing on smaller, rural hospitals with limited capacity. The Minnesota Stroke Registry received 2015–2020 Coverdell funding to continue its work in stroke care.

Additional Information

Acronyms Used in the Summaries

CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
EMS: Emergency Medical Services
NIHSS: National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale
NQF: National Quality Forum
QI: Quality Improvement

Other Terms Defined

Primary Stroke Center: The Joint Commission’s Certificate of Distinction for Primary Stroke Centers recognizes centers that make exceptional efforts to foster better outcomes for stroke care. Achieving certification signifies that the services provided have the critical elements to achieve long-term success in improving outcomes. The certification is based on the Brain Attack Coalition’s “Revised and Updated Recommendations for the Establishment of Primary Stroke Centers” and includes the requirement to report on eight core standardized measures from the Joint Commission.

For more information on the current program, visit the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program website.

For questions about the evaluation of the program, e-mail arebheartinfo@cdc.gov.