NorthShore uses EHR data to create Alzheimer's risk score

Researchers at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Chicago are using data collected in electronic health records to create a risk prediction model for Alzheimer's disease.

The system-wide risk score may be the first of its kind at a health system, Demetrius Maraganore, M.D., chairman of NorthShore's Department of Neurology and medical director of its Neurological Institute, tells Healthcare Informatics.

The model will use data from conditions like hypertension, smoking, obesity, heart disease and other factors known to lead to Alzheimer's. But Maraganore says researchers at NorthShore's Center for Brain Health also hope to discover other conditions that could contribute to the disease.

Alzheimer's received a boost in attention from the industry when, in spring 2013, President Obama announced the BRAIN Initiative. The project relies on healthcare organizations providing funding to help make advances in artificial intelligence and increased understanding of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Within NorthShore's EHR, there will be a widget giving physicians access to a patient's risk score for Alzheimer's; physicians then can refer the patient to the Center for Brain Health if they find the person at high risk for the disease.

All physicians at the health system should have access to patients' risks scores between October 2015 and September 2016, Maraganore adds.

Mount Sinai, through a case study, also examined taking risk factors for a disease and creating forecasting models based on those factors, FierceHealthIT previously reported.

"Diseases come in clusters, so heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, they don't come independently," Mount Sinai Director of Cardiac Ultrasound Research Partho Sengupta said. "So my hope is that in future we will be able to take all the risk factors ... and we will be able to deliver forecasting models based upon them."

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