Business

Strong Vital Signs in Healthcare Innovation

 Ties between area hospitals and academic medicine help to strengthen Kansas City’s healthcare community to the benefit of the public. Dr. John Spertus, a cardiologist and the Lauer/Missouri Endowed Chair and Professor of Medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), is one example of such healthcare collaboration.

 He also serves as Clinical Director of Outcomes Research at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute.

“Saint Luke’s has a robust research program supported by faculty members at UMKC,” Dr. Spertus says. He cites the number of research papers published by UMKC’s faculty in the past year, 212 to be exact, as an indication of their high level of activity.

“To give a sense of the magnitude of what we’re doing, that’s more than four peer-reviewed papers per week authored by our cardiology group. Our research work has impact.”

Dr. Spertus and his team use research and predictive analytics to help physicians and improve patient care decisions. Normally, evidence-based protocols rely on data that averages patient experience for specific diseases and treatments.

However, treatments that benefit the “average” patient do not always help and can even harm individual patients. Predictive analytics is a contemporary approach to personalized medicine. 

“Saint Luke’s has a robust research program supported by faculty members at UMKC. To give a sense of the magnitude of what we’re doing, [we publish] more than four peer-reviewed papers per week authored by our cardiology group. Our research work has impact.” ~ Dr. John Spertus

His research and clinical trials extract information from the American College of Cardiology’s sizable database to quantify patient-specific disease experience and design patient-specific protocols. These decision-support tools help cardiologists make better decisions at the time of treatment. Predictive analytics reveal patterns of high treatment variation and their efforts on outcomes.

For instance, key decisions for treating PCI (Percutaneous Interventional Angiography) include choosing which drug to control bleeding, which stent to insert and whether to admit patients overnight. These decisions impact a procedure’s outcome, cost and risk for subsequent treatment.

Dr. Spertus studied the use of Bivalirudin, an expensive anti-bleeding drug. “We’re one of three analytic centers in the country for preventative bleeding,” Dr. Spertus says. “Our research found that patients with the lowest risk of bleeding were treated the most aggressively with this drug. On the other hand, patients with the highest risk were treated least aggressively.”

Based on their study, the researchers developed a model to enact changes in treatment and reverse the “risk/treatment paradox.” Dr. Spertus states, “Bleeding rates dropped 40 percent and costs dropped as well.”

This research-supported, personalized medicine leads to better patient outcomes and makes healthcare more affordable. The research is feasible in part from sustainable funding using a business model that is not dependent on federal or private grants.

Dr. Spertus founded the company Health Outcome Sciences to create analytic tools that personalize treatment decisions, such as when to prescribe Bivalirudin, and improve outcomes. HOS combines clinical prediction models, visualization tools and easy-to-understand consent forms that assist providers and their engaged,
informed patients to make better care decisions.

Dr. Spertus says, “We created a sustainable program with a business model that offers patient-centered care.”

This combination of research grounded in an academic setting, forward-thinking medical practice and innovative business structure demonstrates the feasibility of a healthcare collaboration with benefits for everyone concerned.

Note – This excerpt is from an article in the May 2013 issue of KC Business. To read the full article in our digital archive, go HERE.

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