Wake Forest University School of Medicine Develops Digital Platform to Better Care for Stroke Patients

With physicians and patients looking for ways to extend health care beyond the traditional doctor’s office, remote monitoring and care coordination can provide increased support to patients who suffer a major health event such as a stroke.

To address this growing need, clinical researchers and bioinformatic experts at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and stroke experts at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist’s Comprehensive Stroke Center, have created COMPASS-CP, a digital health platform that can be embedded within electronic health records. This platform brings together health care providers and patients to improve health outcomes and avoid unnecessary costs.

COMPASS-CP (COMprehensive Post-Acute Stroke Services – Care Plan) uses health informatics algorithms to combine social and functional determinants of health with clinical, demographic and medication data to create personalized, evidence-based comprehensive care plans. The plans include links to available community-based resources to support health management. Remote patient monitoring such as blood pressure devices and virtual care management programs can be integrated back into the COMPASS-CP platform, which facilitates efficient care management for clinicians.

The platform was created based on insight gained from the COMPASS study, led by Wake Forest University School of Medicine and The University of North Carolina and conducted in 40 hospitals and with community partners across North Carolina. The study was funded through a $14 million, five-year award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), an independent, nonprofit research funding organization authorized by Congress in 2010.

COMPASS compared the health status of stroke patients who receive conventional post-hospitalization treatment to that of patients who receive comprehensive care based on a model developed by a team of physicians, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, health system and human services leaders, and patient and caregiver stakeholders.

“COMPASS-CP allows clinicians to securely receive and easily interpret remote monitoring data, such as blood pressure and physical activity, which helps them, their patients and coaches make timely decisions and adjustments to lifestyle behaviors and medications aimed at reducing the likelihood of patients suffering future strokes,” said Pamela Duncan, Ph.D, professor of neurology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and principal investigator of the COMPASS study. “This is a great example of how our academic learning health system can take research findings and develop solutions to help improve the health of patients right here at home and across the country.”

Wake Forest Innovations helped create a startup company, Care Directions, Inc., to make COMPASS-CP available to other hospitals and health systems across the country. The goal is to decrease the number of secondary events (1 in 4 stroke survivors suffer a second stroke, which is often preventable) and reduce unnecessary costs. The CEO of Care Directions, Douglas Neely, is a 1990 graduate of Wake Forest University. 

“Wake Forest Innovations plays a vital role in our mission as an academic learning health system by supporting the collaboration between industry and our faculty and serving as a bridge to making products sustainable and readily adaptable,” said Terry Hales, senior vice president and executive vice chief academic officer of administration at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. 

Funding to help turn COMPASS-CP into a market-ready product was provided by the Catalyst Fund, a Wake Forest Baptist program that accelerates the development of innovative life science technologies like medical devices, drugs, vaccines, restorative medicines, diagnostics and digital health.

“The Catalyst Fund is a unique initiative created by Wake Forest Baptist to foster and amplify the impact of faculty research and novel improvements in clinical care,” said Peter Young, who serves as the fund’s program manager on behalf of Pappas Capital, one of North Carolina’s longest-established life science venture capital firms and a partner in the fund since its inception in 2015. “Catalyst invests in high-potential Wake Forest Baptist technologies to advance their translation from ideas and inventions into valuable products that improve health, and COMPASS-CP exemplifies this mission.”