Neuroscience: Growing Beyond Stroke Care

Jacqueline Fellows, April 15, 2016

Hospitals and health systems are relying on partnerships and patients to improve care coordination and build opportunities for sustainable growth in the neuroscience service line.

This article first appeared in the April 2016 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Paul Pawlak
Paul Pawlak

While stroke care remains one of the top priorities of the neuroscience service line, there is still plenty of room for growth in this specialty beyond achieving the designation of a primary stroke center. Healthcare executives are looking for ways to improve care coordination for their neuroscience patients.

Some health systems, such as Palo Alto, California–based Stanford Health Care, which is part of Stanford University Medical Center, have thrown out the old siloed playbook and now have all of their outpatient neuroscience services under one roof. Other hospitals, such as the standalone 296-bed Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, Illinois, are partnering with larger systems to leverage access to specialty care for patients. Both strategies signal a new chapter for both patients and providers.

Success key No. 1: Centrally locate outpatient services
When Stanford Health Care's new $80 million, five-story Neuroscience Health Center opened on January 11, there were 246 patient appointments on the schedule. For Stanford Health Care executives Frank Longo, MD, PhD, chairman of the department of neurology and neurological sciences, and Alison Kerr, vice president for operations, that first day was a test. Over the course of that first 12-hour day, they would find out if five years of planning, building, and designing a new one-stop shop for outpatient neuroscience services truly met their patients' needs.

"I got an email from a patient who has been to many of our clinics," Longo says. "Her email started off with capital letters: WOW." Longo says the patient wrote that she "couldn't believe" all that the building had to offer.

That wow factor was possible because of 12 patients on the neuroscience patient advisory council who played a major role in the building's design. "They are our subject matter experts; our clinicians are not," Kerr says. "These are people with Parkinson's and patients who have had aneurysms, brain tumors. How can you argue with somebody who has had a stroke that says, 'I'm going to slip and fall on that floor.' You can't argue with someone's day-to-day experience."

Jacqueline Fellows

Jacqueline Fellows is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.

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