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    Clinical Centers of Excellence: Headache

    Migraine headaches account for an estimated 5 million office visits every year in the United States. According to one survey, 74 percent of migraine sufferers report being satisfied with their physicians’ care—which also means that 1 in every 4 walks away without needed relief. It is this considerable group that inspired this month’s Clinical Centers of Excellence profiles.

    Intractable headache, whether episodic or chronic, can be so disabling that some patients are unable to go to work or even complete routine daily tasks. These patients often require emergency room treatment to manage headache pain and associated nausea, photophobia, and phonophobia. Analgesics or narcotic pain medication they may be mistakenly prescribed can worsen the disorder and, if overused, may result in hospitalization.

    Patients with severe chronic migraine may opt to seek treatment outside their geographical area, according to some specialists interviewed for this series. The centers were chosen based on a survey of neurologists; each institution was asked to provide patient statistics, research protocol information, funding, and other pertinent headache management features.

    In addition, Medical Economics has gathered expert advice from our featured centers on screening, diagnosis, and management of headaches. This information will be helpful whether the patient can be treated in a primary care setting or requires referral to a specialist. Read it here.

    We do not rank the centers relative to each other, but highlight what makes each one unique. Though we could not profile them all, the Clinical Centers of Excellence identified by our survey are listed on this page.

    The following profiles provide a valuable tool when considering where to refer patients with severe headache.

    Clinical Centers of Excellence: Headache

    Advanstar Clinical Centers of Excellence Institutions under consideration to be named Clinical Centers of Excellence are asked to self-report data, which is checked against publicly available information. Depending on the specialty, these criteria may include:

    • Quality-improvement initiatives under way
    • Community outreach
    • National awards and recognition
    • Participation in national therapeutic initiatives (e.g., the National Cancer Consortium, Children’s Oncology Group, etc.)
    • Number of referrals for the particular specialty area
    • Number of international referrals
    • Number of patients treated/procedures performed per year
    • Number of research protocols engaged in annually
    • Number of medication/surgical errors
    • Systems in place to prevent errors
    • Outcomes data (e.g., mortality/morbidity rates, unnecessary readmission rates, etc.)
    • Level of technological equipment on site
    • EHR processes and level of development
    • Participation in regional systems integration initiatives
    • Follow-up care programs (e.g., enforcement of secondary prevention/medication compliance)
    • Patient education efforts
    • Patient satisfaction survey results
    • Infectious disease prevention efforts
    • Availability of comprehensive care programs (e.g., preventive cardiology)
    • Evidence of incorporating research and clinical care
    • High ranking by NCQA
    • KOL publishing records
    • Medical Nobel Laureates on faculty
    • JCAHO certification/accreditation

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