Variable Impact of State Legislative Advocacy on Registry Participation and Regional Systems of Care Implementation
A Policy Statement From the American Heart Association
Regionalization, systems of care design, and quality improvement (QI) registry participation all promote the widespread dissemination of guideline-based evidence into actual practice. As a result, policy statements from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) advocate for the creation of regional systems of care for various time-critical diagnoses, including ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), out-of-hospital cardiac arrest resuscitation, and acute stroke.1–3 Creation of these regional networks requires multidisciplinary collaboration to implement 5 mutually reinforcing core elements4 that build each system: (1) Designation of certain hospitals with special treatment capabilities as Receiving Centers for STEMI, resuscitation, or stroke; (2) emergency medical services (EMS) destination protocols that allow for direct transport of certain patients identified by explicit triage criteria to a designated Receiving Center, thus allowing for bypass of closer hospitals if they lack the needed specialty service; (3) organized interhospital transfer and transport protocols to a Receiving Center for appropriate patients who initially self-present or are mistriaged to a Referral Hospital; (4) communication or telemedicine options to provide real-time expert consultation as needed from a Receiving Center to its associated Referral Hospitals or EMS providers; and (5) participation in a regional and/or national QI registry to track relevant process-of-care metrics and meaningful risk-adjusted clinical outcomes.
Within each of the 50 states, unique challenges exist for stakeholders attempting to implement the 5 aforementioned core elements of regional or statewide systems of care. In particular, substantial variation exists with regard to the starting point for these initiatives. For example, some states already have sufficient regulatory authority within their EMS agency or state department of health (DOH) to regionalize care of time-critical diagnoses, whereas other states require new legislation to create coordinated systems.
In October 2011, the Advocacy Coordinating Committee of the AHA convened a multispecialty task force to assess the …