• Vol. 37 No. 2, 118–127
  • 15 February 2008

Bridging the Gap Between Primary and Specialist Care – An Integrative Model for Stroke



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Stroke is a major cause of death and disability in Singapore and many parts of the world. Chronic disease management programmes allow seamless care provision across a spectrum of healthcare facilities and allow appropriate services to be brought to the stroke patient and the family. Randomised controlled trials have provided evidence for efficacious interventions. After the management of acute stroke in a stroke unit, most stable stroke patients can be sent to their family physician for continued treatment and rehabilitation supervision. Disabled stroke survivors may need added home-based services. Suitable community resources will need to be harnessed. Clinic-based stroke nurses may enhance service provision and coordination. Close collaboration between the specialist and family physician would be needed to right-site patients and also allow referrals in either direction where necessary. Barriers to integration can be surmounted by trust and improved communication. Audits would allow monitoring of care provision and quality care enhancement. The Wagner model of chronic care delivery involves self-management support, shared clinical information systems, delivery system redesign, decision support, healthcare organisation and community resources. The key and critical feature is the need for an informed, activated (or motivated) patient, working in collaboration with the specialist and family physician, and a team of nursing and allied healthcare professionals across the continuum of care. The 3-year Integrating Services and Interventions for Stroke (ISIS) project funded by the Ministry of Health will test such an integrative system.

Cerebrovascular disease (CVD) is Singapore’s fourth leading cause of death, comprising 9% of all deaths, a crude death rate of 40.4/100,000, an age- and sex-standardised prevalence of 3.65% among adults aged ≥50 years, and an incidence of 1.8/1000 patient-years. It is among our top 10 causes of hospitalisation. With our aging population, CVD will pose an increasing challenge to our healthcare system.

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