Risk stratification is or should be a high priority action item in all healthcare organizations right now. Risk stratification is the process of classifying patients based on their personal statistics, as well as their symptoms, past hospitalizations, and many other factors.
Risk stratification is used to predict, prioritize and prevent.
By predict, we mean predict what might happen in the future for each patient. Predict who may or may not be readmitted, may need higher levels of care, or who is at risk for their diseases or symptoms to get worse. We want to predict anything that may or may not happen to a patient, before it occurs.
Once future outcomes of patients are predicted, you can prioritize the needs of each patient, based on these predictions. Hopefully, by prioritizing more at-risk patients, you can stop or slow the progression of an illness or disease with certain interventions.
Once a patient is prioritized to get the care he or she needs, pre-emptively, we hope to prevent future re-admissions, symptoms getting worse, or, worst case scenario, death.
Knowing that someone has stage 1 diabetes, smokes and is overweight, it would be accurate to predict that this person’s diabetes may get worse without some lifestyle changes, as well as counseling and maybe even some initial treatments or medicines. Because of this person’s personal factors, you have predicted their diabetes can and likely will get worse. From there, you can prioritize this patient.
Hopefully, in prioritizing our diabetes patient, we give him or her the extra care and attention needed, and we can actually prevent the diabetes from getting worse. The “prevent” or risk stratification is, of course, the most important step and ultimate goal in this process.
There are a variety of different ways organizations can do risk stratification, but the end result is the same. You want to be classifying all patients based on many factors (including historical data) and using these classifications to prevent future consequences down the road.
Obviously preventing readmission is good for our patient’s sake, but readmission is also is very costly. Check out this infographic on Why Care Coordination Matters.
Implementing risk stratification might be difficult. You need to gather a huge amount of data and learn what risk stratification method works best for you. But, like all of healthcare data and analytics, this process will greatly help your healthcare organization, both in patient care and in cost and time savings.
The Health Intelligence Network blog has many posts about risk stratification, including valuable infographics like the one above. Check out this listof benefits when imprementing risk stratification. It seems like a pretty obvious next step, in a time when we are digitizing all our records and trying to see how we can use such data to improve healthcare for the future.
Healthcare analytics and risk stratification can only help our healthcare industry moving forward.