Abstract

Most children with sickle cell disease (SCD) today survive into adulthood. Among emerging adults, there is a marked increase in acute care utilization and a rise in mortality, which can be exacerbated by not establishing or remaining in adult care. Health care transition programs are therefore essential to prepare, transfer, and integrate emerging adults in the adult care setting. The Six Core Elements of Health Care Transition, created by the Center for Health Care Transition Improvement, define the basic components of health care transition support as follows: (1) transition policy, (2) tracking and monitoring progress, (3) assessing transition readiness, (4) planning for adult care, (5) transferring to adult care, and (6) integrating into adult care. Programs that implement the Six Core Elements have experienced significant declines in care abandonment during adolescence and young adulthood and higher early adult care engagement. Most of the core transition activities are not currently reimbursable, however, posing a challenge to sustain transition programs. Ongoing studies are investigating interventions in comparative effectiveness trials to improve health-related quality of life and reduce acute care utilization among emerging adults with SCD. Although these studies will identify best practices for health care transition, it is also important to define how the transition outcomes will be measured, as no consensus definition exists for successful health care transition in SCD. Future research is needed to define best practices for health care transition, systematically assess transition outcomes, and revise payment models to promote sustainability of health care transition programs.

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