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State Awards $500,000 to UM-led Florida Stroke Registry

The Florida Stroke Registry, a statewide initiative led by stroke experts at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, recently received $500,000 in state funds to further expand the registry’s mission to identify, monitor and reduce stroke disparities, and improve stroke care for hospitals and stroke centers throughout Florida.

From left, Senator Lauren Book, Tatjana Rundek, M.D., Ph.D., and Ralph L. Sacco, M.D., M.S.

“With the funding, we’re now able to do more,” said Ralph L. Sacco, M.D., M.S., an internationally renowned stroke neurologist at the Miller School and the director of the Florida Stroke Registry. “A lot of the registry’s work would not move forward without the support of the state, so I want to say a huge ‘thank you.’”

The appropriation for 2018 was sponsored by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation), who recently presented a check to Sacco and UM stroke experts, and who has been an avid supporter of improving stroke care throughout the state.

“Stroke has affected my family so it was important that we continue to do research, and that we make sure that no matter where you are in our state that you are going to be treated. Seconds and minutes count,” said Book.

“Because of the registry, we are able to look at best practices and develop new ways of caring for patients and making sure that one hospital is talking to another hospital,” said Book. “These are things that are really important for us and that we should be paying attention to, so that’s why we continue to fund programs that help ensure a healthy Florida.”

The registry was established in 2012 under a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health and Stroke Prevention Intervention Research Program cooperative grant. With that grant ended, state funding supporting the registry will greatly facilitate continued efforts in making Florida one of the most organized states in stroke care, said Sacco, who also serves as executive director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, professor and chair of UM’s Department of Neurology, Olemberg Chair in Neurological Disorders, senior associate dean for clinical and translational science, and director of UM’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

The Florida Stroke Registry collects data from hospitals participating in the American Heart Association’s “Get With The Guidelines – Stroke” quality improvement program. Through data analyses that reveal improvements and gaps in stroke performance, the registry has had a direct impact on the quality of care at participating hospitals. Data analyses from 2010 to 2017 show continued improvements among all races and ethnic groups for overall stroke care in Florida hospitals. However, data for the same period also revealed continued gaps in care among black Florida residents, who are less likely to receive the clot-dissolving drug tPA (tissue plasminogen activator).

Currently, 80 Florida hospitals are voluntarily enrolled in the registry, including 32 in South Florida, 8 in the northern panhandle, 23 in the western central area and 17 in the eastern central area. Sacco hopes to enlist additional Florida hospitals.

“We want this to be a whole statewide organization because this is for the good of the entire state,” said Sacco. “One of the best things about the registry is the ability for hospitals to share best practices and learn from each other.”

Florida is one of 16 states that fund stroke-related initiatives. As UM is a major stroke research hub, the Florida Stroke Registry was the first to provide data-driven perspectives of race, ethnic, sex and geographic stroke disparities.

The registry has an online portal catering specifically to health professionals representing participating hospitals. The website not only contains educational tools and the latest Florida Stroke Registry research publications, but also hospital-specific annual reports. The reports provide hospitals with a tool to track and measure their stroke quality of care through graphical representation of various performance metrics. This tool allows hospitals to identify gaps and develop solutions to improve care.

Sacco said the new funding will help develop additional educational tools, training modules, and regional reports, as well as build awareness of critical lifesaving practices, such as shortening times to treatment and further mobilizing paramedics to assess symptoms. The registry has data from approximately 180,000 Florida stroke cases, allowing experts to look at trends in stroke care over time.

The UM stroke team eventually wants to incorporate community outreach into the registry to better educate Florida residents on stroke risk factors and symptoms for adults and children.

In additional to Sacco, the registry is led by stroke neurologists Tatjana Rundek, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology and public health sciences, executive vice chair for research and faculty affairs in the Department of Neurology, scientific director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute and Evelyn F. McKnight Chair for Learning and Memory in Aging at the Miller School, and Jose G. Romano, M.D., chief of the Miller School’s Stroke Division, professor of neurology and director of the Jackson Memorial Hospital Comprehensive Stroke Center. In addition, the registry receives oversight from the Florida Stroke Registry Advisory Committee, which is comprised of stroke experts from around the state, and collaboration with the American Heart Association.

Tags: Florida Stroke Registry, Laura Book, Ralph Sacco, Tatjana Rundek