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Michael A. Williams, Tessa van der Willigen, Patience H. White, Cathy C. Cartwright, David L. Wood and Mark G. Hamilton

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.

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Brandon G. Rocque, Bradley E. Weprin, Jeffrey P. Blount, Betsy D. Hopson, James M. Drake, Mark G. Hamilton, Michael A. Williams, Patience H. White, Katie O. Orrico and Jonathan E. Martin

OBJECTIVE

The number of children with complex medical conditions surviving to adulthood is increasing. A planned transition to adult care systems is essential to the health maintenance of these patients. Guidance has been established for the general health care transition (HCT) from adolescence to adulthood. No formal assessment of the performance of pediatric neurosurgeons in HCT has been previously performed. No “best practice” for this process in pediatric neurosurgery currently exists. The authors pursued two goals in this paper: 1) define the current state of HCT in pediatric neurosurgery through a survey of the membership of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons (ASPN) on current methods of HCT, and 2) develop leadership-endorsed best-practice guidelines for HCT from pediatric to adult neurosurgical health care.

METHODS

Completion of the Current Assessment of Health Care Transition Activities survey was requested of 178 North American pediatric neurosurgeons by using a web-based questionnaire to capture HCT practices of the ASPN membership. The authors concurrently conducted a PubMed/MEDLINE–based literature review of HCT for young adults with special health care needs, surgical conditions, and/or neurological conditions for the period from 1990 to 2018. Selected articles were assembled and reviewed by subject matter experts and members of the ASPN Quality, Safety, and Advocacy Committee. Best-practice recommendations were developed and subjected to peer review by external expert groups.

RESULTS

Seventy-six responses to the survey (43%) were received, and 62 respondents (82%) answered all 12 questions. Scores of 1 (lowest possible score) were recorded by nearly 60% of respondents on transition policy, by almost 70% on transition tracking, by 85% on transition readiness, by at least 40% on transition planning as well as transfer of care, and by 53% on transition completion. Average responses on all core elements were < 2 on the established 4-point scale. Seven best-practice recommendations were developed and endorsed by the ASPN leadership.

CONCLUSIONS

The majority of pediatric neurosurgeons have transition practices that are poor, do not meet the needs of patients and families, and should be improved. A structured approach to transition, local engagement with adult neurosurgical providers, and national partnerships between pediatric and adult neurosurgery organizations are suggested to address current gaps in HCT for patients served by pediatric neurosurgeons.