Background To compare performance of routing paradigms for patients with acute ischemic stroke using clinical outcomes.
Methods We simulated different routing paradigms in a system comprising one primary stroke center (PSC) and one comprehensive stroke center (CSC), separated by distances representative of urban, suburban, and rural environments. In the nearest center paradigm, patients are initially sent to the nearest center, while in CSC first, patients are sent to the CSC. In the Rhode Island and distributive paradigms, patients with a FAST-ED (Facial palsy, Arm weakness, Speech changes, Time, Eye deviation, and Denial/neglect) score ≥4 are sent to the CSC, while others are sent to the nearest center or PSC, respectively. Performance and efficiency were compared using rates of good clinical outcome, determined by type and timing of treatment using clinical trial data, and number needed to bypass (NNB).
Results Good clinical outcome was achieved in 43.76% of patients in nearest center, 44.48% in CSC first, and 44.44% in Rhode Island and distributive in an urban setting; 43.38% in nearest center, 44.19% in CSC first, and 44.17% in Rhode Island in a suburban setting; and 41.10% in nearest center, 43.20% in CSC first, and 42.73% in Rhode Island in a rural setting. In all settings, NNB was generally higher for CSC first compared with Rhode Island or distributive.
Conclusion Routing paradigms that allow bypass of nearer hospitals for thrombectomy capable centers improve population level patient outcomes. Differences are more pronounced with increasing distance between hospitals; therefore, paradigm choice may be most impactful in rural settings. Selective bypass, as implemented in the Rhode Island and distributive paradigms, improves system efficiency with minimal impact on outcomes.
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Funding This work was supported by RSNA grant No RMS1722.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Patient consent for publication Not required.