Objectives: To understand the hospital-to-outpatient care transition and how the discharge process of stroke patients is managed; and to identify potential opportunities to improve these processes, while contrasting pre- and during COVID-19 experiences in Peru.
Methods: A qualitative study was conducted between February and March 2021 consisting of in-depth interviews of patients with stroke, their caregivers and healthcare personnel regarding stroke care at a national tertiary referral center for stroke care in Lima, Peru. We explored the following phases of the patients' journeys: pre-hospitalization, emergency room, hospitalization, discharge process and post-discharge. For each phase, we explored experiences, feelings and expectations using thematic analysis.
Results: We conducted a total of 11 interviews with patients or caregivers and 7 with health care personnel and found disruption in the continuity of care for patients with stroke. Mainly, caregivers and patients referred to problems related to communication with healthcare personnel and an absence of training to provide post-discharge care at home. Potential solutions included increasing human resources and caregiver participation in care, implementation of electronic healthcare records, improving the referral system and reinforcing telemedicine services.
Conclusion: The continuity of care of patients with stroke was negatively affected during the COVID-19 pandemic. In LMICs, the impact was likely greater due to the already weak and fragmented healthcare systems. The COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to improve post-stroke care services, and address patients' experiences and feelings by developing solutions in a participatory manner.
Keywords: COVID-19; Continuity of care; Health systems; Stroke.
Copyright © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.