Objective

This study (1) describes transitional care for stroke patients discharged home from hospitals, (2) compares hospitals’ standards of transitional care with core transitional care management (TCM) components recognized by Medicare, and (3) examines the association of policy and hospital specialty designations with TCM implementation.

Methods

Hospitals participating in the Comprehensive Post-Acute Stroke Services (COMPASS) Study provided data on their hospital, stroke patient population, and standards of transitional care. Hospital-reported transitional care strategies were compared with the federal TCM definition (2-day follow-up, 14-day visit, non-face-to-face services). We examined the associations of TCM billing, stroke center certification, and Magnet nursing excellence designation with TCM implementation.

Results

Transitional care varied widely among 41 hospitals in North Carolina and no one strategy was universally applied or provided across hospitals. One third of hospitals met the TCM definition (37% provided telephone follow-up, 76% provided face-to-face provider follow-up, all provided a type of non-face-to-face support). There were no differences between groups (TCM met/not met) in hospital characteristics or transitional care resources and processes. Stroke center certification, Magnet designation, and use of TCM billing codes were not different for hospitals that did and did not meet the TCM definition.

Conclusions

There was substantial variation in the provision of strategies supporting stroke patients’ transition home from the hospital. Supportive stroke care transitions are essential when more than 50% of stroke patients are discharged home and more than half experience moderate to severe strokes. More research is needed to identify drivers of TCM uptake.

Clinicaltrials.gov identifier

NCT02588664.

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