In the era of “data gluttony,” one doc’s diet plan is as simple as red, yellow, and green

In a world where hospitals are packed with noisy devices that beep as frequently as once every 90 seconds, it’s amazing that more clinicians don’t wear earplugs at work.  To make matters worse, most of these data-generating machines don’t “talk” to each other - nor to the EHR.  Providers are constantly forced to be in reactive mode as they learn of alarming data after the fact.

We first met Dr. Hari Radhakrishnan in 2015, when he passionately shared his thoughts on patient care, the challenges of connecting disparate data, and the importance of breaking free of the confines of the EHR. 

User-Hostile Environment

“To put it frankly, the EHR is user-hostile,” he said.  This phrase truly resonated with our team of clinicians, analysts, and health tech entrepreneurs at Value Prop Shop.  Our scars and bruises were proof of just how “hostile” this technology can be.  Since then, we’ve stolen this phrase as an ice-breaker for many conversations with clinicians who find it equally amusing and accurate.

“It’s time to make the data work for us and not the other way around. We can’t rely on the EHR to paint a comprehensive picture of a patient’s status.  We have all this data floating around, yet providers must: (1) open the EHR, (2) click on a patient’s chart, (3) wade through convoluted workflows and alerts, and (4) piece together a small fragment of the patient story.”

Never one to accept the status quo, Radhakrishnan began his quest to connect the myriad of data sources inside the hospital walls to provide meaningful insights to providers - at the right time for the right care setting.  He and the team at Decisio Health took an innovative approach using data visualization, to create the “next-generation” clinical surveillance and decision support solution.  The elegant simplicity of this tool has led to strong user adoption – which in turn has resulted in measurable improvement in patient outcomes including reduced length of stay and incidence of sepsis.

Red, yellow, and green

Using the simple theory of visual reaction, Radhakrishan and the team built DecisioInsight, a proactive, clinical decision support solution.  Visual reaction is intuitive.  From a young age, we instinctively learn to react differently to the colors red, yellow – often at stop lights as our parents raced to get us to soccer practice, piano lessons, and play dates.

Decisio Health leverages this intuitive, visual processing: clinicians rapidly interpret and react to color-coded visual displays of aggregated patient data from multiple systems that give real-time, holistic insights into the patient’s status.  This ability to see the what they didn’t even know to look for is a real game changer for inpatient care.

“As physicians, we could work 24 hours a day and only see a fraction of the data that comprises a patient’s story.  For example, if a patient is in the ICU for chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), the care team can barely keep up with the labs, images, and device information pertaining to his or her COPD.  They wouldn’t have the capacity to look for signs and symptoms of unrelated conditions such as kidney injury, for example.  But when abnormal or abnormally trending values are revealed before an adverse outcome occurs, we begin shifting inpatient care from reactive to proactive.”

Accessible via bedside dashboards, workstations on wheels, smartphones, or tablets, DecisioInsight uses automated protocols, customized for each department’s parameters, to identify at-risk patients and prevent adverse outcomes.  Additionally, populations of patients across an entire hospital or multiple facilities can be monitored at once - which is how the technology is currently used by rapid response teams and telehealth centers. 

Transforming the way we practice inpatient medicine

It’s hard not to get excited listening to Radhakrishan passionately speak about transforming inpatient medicine.  We can picture a world where patient rounds are no longer disease-centric, but patient-centric because a dashboard can instantly tells us everything we need to know about a patient’s status, regardless of their admitting diagnosis. 

“Many of the issues that plague our health system today, such as readmissions and prolonged length of stay result from the disease-focused model of inpatient care.  But this technology works in the background to aggregate and interpret all the data and tell us the 90% of the story we didn’t even know was there,” says Radhakrishan.   

A color by numbers book that reveals a hidden mystery, save lives, and reduces the cost of care?  That sounds like a best seller that we can’t wait to read.