Cardiovascular surgeons at The Methodist Hospital System in Houston are working with data analysts and software engineers at Verdande Technology to develop a new type of decision-support system designed to evaluate patient risk, improve surgical outcomes and reduce the costs of a hospital stay.

The system, known as VT Heart, makes use of a type of predictive analytics technology known as Case-Based Reasoning or CBR. Derived from CBR tools utilized in other industries, such as call centers and oil and gas, VT Heart provides real-time, evidence-based decision support for pre-, peri- and post-operative procedures.

“This is an extremely exciting project which evaluates real time predictions of possible adverse outcomes,” says Dr. Alan Lumsden, medical director of the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center in Houston. “Such a system would permit improved patient care and may represent a new standard in real time predictive modeling.”

The Verdande CBR engine uses Houston Methodist patient data and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons' risk calculator algorithms to search for outliers and anomalies and then searches a database to find corresponding case histories. A patient experiencing hypotension and low blood oxygen levels during a procedure, for example, is more likely to experience certain outcomes than others. Using real-time operative data, the CBR system searches the database for applicable case histories and then alerts the surgeon or OR nurse of the associated risks.

“The business of health care is to provide the best care possible while lowering costs, and the development of a CBR-based application serves this goal by identifying both low-risk patients to avoid unnecessary treatment and high-risk patients to help decide on urgent, preemptive interventions,” says Neal Benedict, Verdande Technology’s CEO for its health care business unit.

“Real-time, evidence-based decision support can play a critical role not only in cardiology, but in any health care case that has unexpected situations and requires smart, data-based decisions to support physician experience,” he added.

Seeking to expand its health care business, Verdande is currently in talks with a number of hospitals concerning other potential CBR applications. One promising area concerns stringent new Medicare rules on hospital readmissions.

With hospitals under financial pressure from Medicare to avoid patient readmissions, CBR has the potential to help them identify higher-risk patients at the outset of a procedure, Benedict says. Once aware of the potential risk, the hospital staff can take the appropriate precautions to ensure a success first outcome.

Headquartered in Trondheim, Norway, Verdande Technology provides real-time CBR technology for oil and gas, financial services and health care organizations. The company’s Edge platform – based on the principle that similar problems have similar solutions – identifies, captures and analyzes data patterns in real time, using past events to proactively predict future problems.

Elliot M. Kass is a freelance writer for Securities Technology Monitor and other SourceMedia publications.

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