Intermountain Healthcare develops EHR-based tool to assess patients' COPD risk

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Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare researchers designed a computer algorithm that integrates with patients' EHRs to help determine an individual's risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The electronic system, called the Summit Score, analyzes a range of COPD risk factors, including age, body mass index, prior COPD hospitalization and medication use. The system can then predict a patient's risk for sudden worsening of COPD symptoms, repeat hospital visits and mortality on a scale of zero to 30, with low risk beginning at zero and high risk between 20 and 30.

The researchers found that the Summit Score made accurate predictions on more than 16,000 patients enrolled in the health system's trial, as well as on three other Intermountain Healthcare patient groups, totaling more than 44,000 people.

Current risk scores for COPD are typically based on "simple, often inexact" calculations that a physician can do in his or her head, Benjamin Horne, PhD, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at Intermountain Healthcare, said in a news release.

Dr. Horne said he thinks the Summit Score will ultimately help improve physicians' treatment plans for COPD patients. "Instead of using a risk score that doesn't work all that well, you can use a risk score that's consistently better at predicting outcomes where the computer does the work for you," he said.

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