EHR-generated scores may predict, reduce readmission risk

Electronic health records may be helpful in reducing unplanned hospital readmissions by generating health risk scores that can automatically assess which patients are most at risk for returning after discharge.  

The risk score, called the "Rothman Index" automatically calculates and generates a risk score on patients using routine data contained in the EHR, such as vital signs, nurse summaries, lab tests and skin condition, according to a new study published in the September issue of Medicare Care, the journal of the Medical Care Section of the American Public Health Association. A lower score shows a higher risk.

In the study of 2,700 patients, 16 percent of whom had unplanned hospital readmissions within 30 days after discharge, the index "strongly associated" with those who ended up being readmitted. The index showed that patients in the highest risk category (the lowest scores) had more than a one in five chance of being readmitted. Patients who scored in the lowest risk category had only a one in 10 risk of being readmitted.

The benefit of the index is that clinicians do not have to provide any additional or manual input to create the score; the EHR does all of the work automatically. The study's authors noted that it's still not known how the index can be used to make better decisions about patient care, or to provide better resources to patients upon their discharge.

EHRs continue to prove their potential worth in improving outcomes, including for children's health, HIV rates and preventive medicine.

To learn more:
- read the announcement