Predict and Prevent: Penn Medicine Enlists Big Data to Forecast Cancer Patients’ ER Visits

Big Data could help cancer patients avoid trips to the emergency room.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System is enlisting Big Data to help cancer patients avoid trips to the emergency room, according to a Penn Medicine blog post. The project will target lung cancer patients, flagging recent lab tests, radiology visits and patient systems to develop a formula that will predict when a patient is likely to visit the ER — giving doctors a chance to intervene before emergency care is needed.

Once doctors can better predict which patients may need urgent treatment, they can either take preventive measures or direct that patient away from the emergency room and into another facility. Already, the formula can predict an estimated one out of three ER visits.

“Once we get the alert, we can call the patient ourselves,” said Dr. Tracey Evans, an associate professor of clinical medicine in Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center and one of the doctors piloting the program. “We can schedule them for a visit to our clinic. We can recommend more frequent follow-ups or increase the steps they are taking for home care. All of this stems from big data, and the hope is it can help keep patients out of the emergency room.”

Feb 09 2017