Treatment of stroke consumes a significant portion of all healthcare expenditure. We developed a system for monitoring costs from individual patient data on a national level in Finland.
Multiple national administrative registers were linked to gain episode-of-care data on all hospital-treated patients with incident stroke over the years 1999 to 2007 (n = 94,316). Inpatient and specialist outpatient costs were evaluated with a cost database, long-term care costs with fixed prices, and medication costs with true retail prices.
For the patients of Year 2007, the mean 1-year costs after an ischemic stroke were $29 580, after an intracerebral hemorrhage $36,220, and after a subarachnoid hemorrhage $42,570, valued in Year 2008 U.S. dollars. Only part of these costs are attributable to stroke, because the annual costs prior to stroke were significant, $8900 before ischemic stroke, $7600 before intracerebral hemorrhage, and $4200 before subarachnoid hemorrhage. Older patients with ischemic stroke, and, among patients with ischemic stroke and subarachnoid hemorrhage, women, incurred higher costs. The mean estimated lifetime costs were $130,000 after ischemic stroke or intracerebral hemorrhage and $80,000 after subarachnoid hemorrhage. Annually $1.6 billion is spent in the care of Finnish patients with stroke, which equals to 7% of the national healthcare expenditure, or 0.6% of the gross domestic product. Costs of patients with stroke are increasing with prolonged survival and the aging population.
Treatment of patients with stroke is a large national investment. Setting up a nationwide system for continuous monitoring of stroke costs is feasible. Cost data should optimally be evaluated in conjunction with effectiveness and performance indicators.