Online Tools Predicting Hospital Readmission Risks = Great Health IT Marketing

calculatorsSome new studies show online tools coming up with useful healthcare probabilities. One of them (from the journal Medical Care via Orthopedics Today) looks at how a calculator that crunches EHR data to determine health risks—the Rothman Index—can predict unplanned hospital readmissions.

What better potential way to avoid ACA readmission penalties than to learn from software that uses data to accurately predict unplanned hospital readmissions? (Read Matt Fieldman’s post for more ideas on responding to the ACA with smart digital marketing or using Google Analytics data for healthcare content.) While one of the study’s own authors, Elizabeth Bradley, admits some limitations to the application of the data, she also states that the findings indicate the index can be associated with readmissions.

How is the Rothman Index associated with readmissions? The index draws on EHR data such as laboratory test results, vital signs, cardiac rhythms and Braden score. Researchers who applied the index to 2011 patient treatment data found that those categorized as high-risk had a 2.65X higher chance of a 30-day readmission compared with low-risk patients. Another finding was that patients categorized as high-risk were readmitted on a 1 in 5 basis where the low-risk patient ratio was 1 in 10.

The other online tool is a Surgical Risk Calculator from the American College of Surgeons (ACS) that can gauge the estimated risk for postoperative complications, according to a study in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons (via Medical News Today). It incorporates data from 1.4 million patients and almost 400 hospitals that are part of the ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. When programmed with up to 22 preoperative risk factors, the calculator shows potential risks of 8 postoperative complications in addition to mortality compared to an average patient’s risk. The tool “improves shared decision-making and patient-centered informed consent,” said the study’s co-author, Clifford Ko.

Free advertising
Online tools that demonstrably contribute to improved care quality offer the purest form of (free) advertising a health IT company can get. What spreads the message of an independent software vendor’s (ISV) value to hospitals and health systems better than its product’s capacity to aid patients as evidenced in medical journal studies? Look to the examples cited in these studies: These online tools market themselves. Smart ISVs will look to copy their success by applying their own innovations to providers, then ensuring that these tools produce measurable results that justify the costs of implementation and support. Once these positive results are known, the story of improved outcomes should be central to the message the company delivers to its audience.  It’s one physicians and administrators alike should have a hard time ignoring.

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Photo courtesy of Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr.

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