The level of strain among healthcare service providers is snowballing every day. The challenge not only stems from COVID-19 pandemic, but also from the difficulty in parallelly managing the obligations to already existing patients. Every care facility and service modalities are experiencing an unprecedented demand for attention. This is where the healthcare service providers are trying to alter the existing model of face-to-face care delivery to telehealth service models. Telehealth helps reduce the concerns of disease transmission and meets the needs of consultations, although it cannot fully optimize the system. The healthcare resources are scarce due to the overwhelming COVID-19 outbreak, which further prevents them from extending access to all people in dire needs of other medical attention.
This is the right circumstance for the healthcare service providers to perform the patient risk stratification. Risk stratification is the process of assigning risk levels to patients. The risk levels help hospitals make better care management decisions, providing greater access to care and resources to patients with high-risk levels. Risk stratification will also help healthcare service providers create pre-emptive care plans and predict a population’s health trends.
Role of automation in risk stratification
The first step in patient risk stratification is the identification and sorting of patients into three risk groups – high, medium and low — irrespective of their COVID-19 positive status. Sorting patients from their physical medical charts are unrealistic. Automation plays a significant role in the scenario.
Electronic Medical Record helps healthcare service providers to identify patients easily. The hospitals that use EMR can quickly sort the presence or absence of multiple factors in patients, including age, chronic conditions, comorbidities, physical limitations, frequency of hospitalization, recent surgery history, literacy levels, history of substance abuse, and other physical limitations.
Business Intelligence (BI) is another tool that can provide visibility of a hospital’s treatment and resource status. Business Intelligence goes a step ahead by helping hospitals create population-level dashboards from where the service providers can understand the geographies of patients who visit them more often. This can assist in area lockdowns and better resource allocation to smoothen the curve in those regions. The predictive power of BI can also provide the hospital management with a worldview of the resources available to them to meet upcoming needs.
The hospitals can centralize the COVID-19 vaccine data and reach out to patients with high-risk levels for vaccination, therefore contributing to India’s efforts to increase vaccination rates. Advanced technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence can further analyze the patient statuses and embed the assessments into clinical practices and care management.
It is high time that the healthcare service providers need to efficiently centralize, store, exchange and analyze the enormous amount of data produced in the healthcare system every day. The process of analysis significantly improves the quality of healthcare in the country.