Globally, healthcare providers are turning to virtual care to address the impact of COVID-19 on health systems. Health systems are not only facing increased loads of COVID-related concerns, but they must continue to manage their  existing  obligations. From inpatients to outpatients and those they manage in the community, healthcare providers and resources are strained at every level. Right across the board, every facility and service modality, including hospitals and hotlines are experiencing unprecedented demand on top of an already struggling  baseline.   

Existing models of care entrenched around face-to-face consults are rapidly being replaced by telehealth service models. Telehealth helps reduce the key public health concerns of disease transmission, but these telehealth models still do not fully optimise the productivity of our health system resources, already overwhelmed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Early patient risk stratification is critical amidst this outbreak so that healthcare providers can maximise their resources to intervene and target those at high risk and utilise hospital resources to focus on those who really need it.  

Why is patient risk stratification important? 

The foundational step in targeting individuals at high risk is to first identify them. Identifying and curating  lists of  patients both COVID-19 negative and positive, will enable clinicians to actively monitor or care for at risk patients, and track their ongoing  progress.  

Patient risk stratification is important in the following areas: 

  • Predicting risks – Providers can proactively identify patients at risk of unplanned hospital admissions, enabling clinicians to intervene early and safely avoid hospital admission. This will ensure hospitals are using their resources to care for those who are COVID-19 positive.  
  • Pre-emptive care plan creation – Identifying patient-specific risk factors that might make a patient more vulnerable to COVID infection, will enable clinicians to adjust care plans and offer advice early on. 
  • Predicting population health trends– Identifying specific patient cohorts early can help providers understand patient populations and trends during this pandemic. This data will help healthcare providers find answers to critical health questions.  

How can Orion Health help? 

Orion Health has developed a comprehensive pandemic Outbreak Management solution that provides a suite of modules that help to alleviate the demand on health systems.  

Our first module helps healthcare providers to identify and track specific patient cohorts.  

With the use of data science, our solution allows providers to identify and curate lists of patients both COVID-19 negative and positive who would benefit from active monitoring or care and tracking their ongoing progress.  

Providers can use this information to maintain the visibility of patients who are presenting symptoms or those concerned they may have had exposure to the virus. Healthcare providers can complete proactive identification of high-risk patients from existing HIE data.   

Reporting dashboards allow providers to track and display the status of COVID cases and report back to interested parties.  Having a platform to stratify patients according to risk is key to the success of any population health initiative.  

As data is captured and new information is learnt, new algorithms can be used to further identify at-risk patients, and then, using machine learning, deployed and embedded into clinical practice inside our case and care management tools.

Population-level dashboards, such as those specific to COVID-19, can then be utilised to inform decision-makers on where the need is greatest. This approach will help with area lockdown and resource allocation to smooth out the COVID-19 curve and avoid unnecessary deaths due to an under-optimised health system.