[googlefont font=”Open Sans” size=”16px” margin=”10px 0 20px 0″]Regional Stroke Networks deliver huge gains in lives saved, reduced hospitalizations, reduced costs and improved outcomes.[/googlefont]

The collaboration of regional stroke networks across Ontario has led to 16,000 fewer hospitalizations, 1,500 fewer in-hospital deaths, and cost-savings of almost $600 million in an eight-year period, according to a study presented at the Canadian Stroke Congress.

The Ontario Stroke System (OSS), which connects the province‟s 11 regional stroke networks, helps coordinate access to stroke care across the province to improve outcomes for stroke survivors through the integration of best practices.

“The fact that outcomes actually improved during this period clearly establishes the benefits of reorganizing services to provide equitable access to evidence-based prevention and care,” says Chris O’Callaghan, executive director of the Ontario Stroke Network.

Through dynamic relationships among individuals, organizations, and governments, the OSS works across the continuum of stroke care— including health promotion; primary, secondary and tertiary prevention; pre-hospital care; emergency, diagnostic, and acute care; rehabilitation; long-term care; and community reintegration.

The OSS, created in 2000, is based on a collaborative model of 11 regional stroke networks, each of which includes a regional stroke centre, district stroke centres, and community hospitals.

Using data from the Ontario Stroke Network Evaluation Report, Champlain Regional Stroke Network director Jim Lumsden and colleagues sought to quantify the impact of the OSS on acute stroke hospitalization and in-hospital mortality.


 “The fact that outcomes actually improved during this period clearly establishes the benefits of reorganizing services to provide equitable access to evidence-based prevention and care.”


The report revealed that stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) admission rates fell from 1.7 per 1,000 population to 1.3 per 1,000 and in-hospital deaths decreased from 14.3 per cent to 11.4 per cent between 2003/04 and 2010/11.

The research team estimates that this translates into just over 16,000 fewer acute stroke hospitalizations and 1,555 fewer deaths during this eight-year period.

The estimated cost savings associated with the reduction in Ontario‟s stroke hospitalization rates is $581 million.

Lumsden acknowledges that the improvements are a credit not only to the Regional Stroke Networks but to the broader efforts in the health system to reduce risk factors. He says it‟s a cumulative impact.

“We have seen improvements in stroke-related outcomes as a result of the development of stroke networks in Ontario and in other provinces,” says Ian Joiner, Director of Stroke for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. “This emphasizes the urgent need for all ministries of health and system planners to continue to explore, fund and implement integrated and comprehensive stroke systems based on best practice recommendations.”

The OSS is supported and advanced by the Ontario Stroke Network (OSN), a nonprofit organization that provides provincial leadership and planning for the OSS by recommending, implementing, and evaluating province-wide goals and standards for the continuum of stroke care. The OSN acts as a credible advisor, evaluates and drives system performance, and coordinates research and knowledge management programs.

“The Ontario Stroke Network has been instrumental in assisting with the care of people with stroke across Ontario to ensure access to best practice care,” adds Central East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) CEO Deborah Hammons.

She says since the system is not yet functioning at 100 per cent compliance with best practices, there remains room for ongoing improvement.

“The findings in Ontario demonstrate that continued focus on stroke best practices combined with a rigorous evaluation system improves care and saves lives.” says Dr. Mark Bayley, Co-chair of Stroke Congress

The Canadian Stroke Congress is a joint initiative of the Canadian Stroke Network, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and Canadian Stroke Consortium.

View the poster Lumsden presented on the study at the Canadian Stroke Congress.

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Patrick Moore
Communications Manager, Ontario Stroke Network
(c) 416-455-7394