The health care needs of children with hydrocephalus continue beyond childhood and adolescence; however, pediatric hospitals and pediatric neurosurgeons are often unable to provide them care after they become adults. Each year in the US, an estimated 5000–6000 adolescents and young adults (collectively, youth) with hydrocephalus must move to the adult health care system, a process known as health care transition (HCT), for which many are not prepared. Many discover that they cannot find neurosurgeons to care for them. A significant gap in health care services exists for young adults with hydrocephalus. To address these issues, the Hydrocephalus Association convened a Transition Summit in Seattle, Washington, February 17–18, 2017.
The Hydrocephalus Association surveyed youth and families in focus groups to identify common concerns with HCT that were used to identify topics for the summit. Seven plenary sessions consisted of formal presentations. Four breakout groups identified key priorities and recommended actions regarding HCT models and practices, to prepare and engage patients, educate health care professionals, and address payment issues. The breakout group results were discussed by all participants to generate consensus recommendations.
Barriers to effective HCT included difficulty finding adult neurosurgeons to accept young adults with hydrocephalus into their practices; unfamiliarity of neurologists, primary care providers, and other health care professionals with the principles of care for patients with hydrocephalus; insufficient infrastructure and processes to provide effective HCT for youth, and longitudinal care for adults with hydrocephalus; and inadequate compensation for health care services.
Best practices were identified, including the National Center for Health Care Transition Improvement’s “Six Core Elements of Health Care Transition 2.0”; development of hydrocephalus-specific transition programs or incorporation of hydrocephalus into existing general HCT programs; and development of specialty centers for longitudinal care of adults with hydrocephalus.
The lack of formal HCT and longitudinal care for young adults with hydrocephalus is a significant health care services problem in the US and Canada that professional societies in neurosurgery and neurology must address. Consensus recommendations of the Hydrocephalus Association Transition Summit address 1) actions by hospitals, health systems, and practices to meet local community needs to improve processes and infrastructure for HCT services and longitudinal care; and 2) actions by professional societies in adult and pediatric neurosurgery and neurology to meet national needs to improve processes and infrastructure for HCT services; to improve training in medical and surgical management of hydrocephalus and in HCT and longitudinal care; and to demonstrate the outcomes and effectiveness of HCT and longitudinal care by promoting research funding.