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New Data Project Could Impact Patient Care at Sanford

Oct 30, 2017 08:46AM ● By The Hood Magazine

Students and researchers at four universities and Sanford Research have released the findings from their study of real-time patient data. It includes information that may impact the way patients are cared for at Sanford in the future.

The data, which is stripped of private information, was made available as part of the Sanford Data Collaborative, which gathered statistics from thousands of patient visits to Sanford facilities and allowed the selected academic institutions to study it for trends and insights. The study

  began in February.

“We had 20 applications from seven institutions,” says population health scientist Emily Griese, PhD, DIrector of Collaborative Research with Sanford’s health services division. “These were 20 truly multidisciplinary applications from the health services world, the business world, the behavioral health world, and others.”

Griese says sharing de-identified data with other institutions brings broader perspective to issues faced by patients, providers and systems. Although the original plan was to accept only three to five  projects, they ultimately selected six.

“We considered a number of variables in deciding which projects to accept,” says Griese. “We were looking for projects with a population-level focus. We wanted these to be things that would impact a big part of the Sanford footprint. The other piece was whether or not the data that they wanted to use was actually available.”

“The other piece is that they needed to be able to come back to us and demonstrate how this could be used in clinical care.”

Among the projects chosen for the collaborative were a readmission risk algorithm for heart surgery patients developed by USD, an algorithm to predict unplanned medical visits for diabetics from the University of North Dakota, and a patient engagement score designed to decrease ED visits created by researchers at SDSU.

“Typically, a hospital will share data with an academic institution that they are a part of,” says Griese. “This is unique because we are not part of an academic institution. So for us, this is a good partnership. It is one of the first of its kind in the nation.”


The 2017-18 project RFP was released in September.

The chosen projects are:

University of South Dakota (principal investigator: Carole South-Winter, Ed.D.): The team developed a readmission risk algorithm for patients following heart surgery that determines who is at risk and provides insights for care. Previous risk scores did not suggest possible interventions.

Dakota State University (principal investigator: Yong Wang, Ph.D.): Researchers looked for patterns in how rural and urban patients use various service platforms, including electronic medical records, to search for ways to decrease emergent and urgent care needs.

University of North Dakota, (principal investigator: Arielle Seyla, Ph.D.): The team developed an algorithm to predict unplanned medical visits for diabetics, taking into account their current disease management behaviors, such as smoking, and other information, and then providing pathways to care.

South Dakota State University (principal investigator: Surachat Ngorsuraches, Ph.D.): The team developed a patient engagement score using existing patient data. Patient engagement factors into effective management of chronic conditions, but surveys and other tracking methods are time-consuming. This score can help identify and decrease emergency department visits and hospitalizations.

University of North Dakota, (principal investigator: Jeff Hostetter, M.D.): The team examined how primary care services can affect patients’ use of preventative behaviors and looked to see how that differs with a team-based approach.

Sanford Research (principal investigator: Susan Hoover, M.D., Ph.D.): The Population Health Group created an algorithm based on current patient data to determine who needs screening for C. difficile. The goal was to decrease unnecessary testing and to develop a platform to be used to decide on ordering the test.

All projects are undergoing validation. Those with clear promise after validation will be implemented this fall. To ensure continued patient privacy, a privacy board was developed and contains legal and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act experts and community members.

“The possibilities using big data are endless,” said Allison Suttle, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer for health services. “The ability to analyze it in real time, with the expertise of our regional universities, means we’ll better be able to answer key questions and provide more individualized care. We’re able to take something abstract – data – and make it personal, and that’s exciting.”

The Sanford Data Collaborative is a service of Sanford Research and is supported by Sanford Enterprise Data and Analytics. The 2017-18 project RFP will be available in September 2017.

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