Minnesota Advances Quality Care Through Data Collection

Success Story from the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program


Man sitting at his desk looking at information on a tablet.

Stroke is the sixth leading cause of death in Minnesota and one of the leading causes of disability in the state. Nearly 2,300 Minnesotans died of stroke in 2018.1

To help reduce deaths and disability from stroke, Minnesota health officials are using data and quality performance measures to improve the quality of care for stroke patients. These efforts are funded by CDC’s Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program (Coverdell Program).

In 2008, the Minnesota Stroke Program’s Minnesota Stroke Registry Tool began accepting hospital data on stroke patients. Over the next 10 years, new features were added to the tool as the program grew. These features included real-time reports for hospitals and options to submit different amounts of stroke data.

In 2019, an expanded online platform called the Minnesota Stroke Portal launched. The new portal includes the Minnesota Stroke Registry and the Minnesota Stroke System Hospital Designation Application.

Challenge and Approach

The Minnesota Stroke Portal is a free data collection and reporting platform available to hospitals in Minnesota and neighboring states that may transport stroke patients to Minnesota. The portal collects data on emergency department and inpatient care of stroke patients and is more integrated and user-friendly than the previous platform. Hospitals can more easily access their own data and use the system to generate reports, identify gaps, and enhance quality of care.

The portal also makes it easier for hospitals to apply for designation as an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital, a Primary Stroke Center, or a Comprehensive Stroke Center and to maintain their designation.

The Minnesota Stroke Program has trained staff at 103 hospitals and transitioned them to the new portal. To ensure the success of the new system, the program:

  • Created a detailed plan and timeline to work on communications, training materials, technology testing, and outreach.
  • Offered multiple training formats, including live webinars, written guidance, and recorded videos.
  • Offered in-person trainings for staff on analyzing and collecting data to help test the system.

“I like being able to download the case review report into Excel to be able to manipulate the data and create reports not included in the portal.”

Minnesota Stroke Portal user


  • The Minnesota Stroke Program hosted three webinars to train 190 portal users. Most participants reported that they found the portal content valuable and were likely to use it in their facilities.
  • The program created technical assistance resources, including five training videos.
  • A Stroke Boot Camp in October 2019 provided in-person training on mock chart abstractions, report overviews, and hospital designation site visit tips. Fifty-seven people attended, and more than 75% reported an increase in confidence in these areas after the training.
  • After the portal went live, the number of hospitals participating in the state’s stroke program increased from 68 to 130. The number of hospitals using the portal to submit their Coverdell Program data grew from 40 to 103.

Three months after the portal went live, most of the users surveyed said they were very satisfied with the system and found it to be user-friendly.

Lessons Learned

Male employee talk on video call with female colleague.

One challenge of moving to the new portal was internal program staff turnover. This made it difficult to meet deadlines, plan content releases, and prepare for training. The Minnesota Stroke Program team met this challenge by being flexible on deadlines and transparent with hospitals about delays.

Before the portal update, some hospitals had been submitting only emergency department data to the Minnesota Stroke Registry Tool. They were reluctant to add inpatient data because of the additional staff time and resources needed. But most hospitals agreed to the process change once they understood that it could help them improve their stroke care by providing real-time reports about their performance. The Minnesota Stroke Program team called each hospital to explain the reasoning, which was a key to success.

It was also important for the Minnesota Stroke Program team to communicate with hospitals and information technology staff before, during, and after the transition to the new system. The Minnesota Stroke Program offered advice and guidance to hospitals as they began the additional data entry. It also tracked user feedback, which helped identify gaps in communication and training, new tools that were needed, and topics for webinars. Testing the system before release also helped secure buy-in from other hospitals.

To develop the new portal and bring in more hospitals, the Minnesota Stroke Program had to streamline its communication and project management processes. Project management tools have helped identify ongoing work, track the budget, and identify who is responsible for each task. The Minnesota Stroke Program also asks portal users for feedback and regularly evaluates its efforts to ensure that its work is meaningful for hospitals.

“I love that only the items I need to answer are visible to me. I find it much quicker to enter a case now.”

Minnesota Stroke Portal user

Additional Information


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stroke Mortality by State. Accessed July 28, 2020.