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Author's profile photo Derek Klobucher

Using Real-Time Data for Real-Life Healthcare Choices [VIDEO]

The popularity of knee and hip replacement surgeries is growing quickly in the U.S., The Washington Post noted last month. Total knee replacement is the sole option for effectively treating some chronic knee problems, MedPageToday stated last week, and more people are opting for it because of population growth, the obesity epidemic and expanding health insurance eligibility.

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“Prior to anyone ever getting surgery, we want to try to predict how they’re going to do,” orthopedic surgeon Michael Sparks said.

But it isn’t a trivial procedure: Surgeons remove the ends of two bones, swapping them for metal and plastic, and a vital stabilizing ligament might be exchanged for a polyethylene post, according to MedicineNet. Most patients stay in the hospital up to five days after surgery, according to WebMD, and it can be six weeks before they can walk comfortably with only a little help.

So opting for knee replacement can be a tough call.

Making the Call

“Prior to anyone ever getting surgery, we want to try to predict how they’re going to do,” Dartmouth-Hitchcock orthopedic surgeon Michael Sparks said in an SAP video. “But we’ve never had that missing tool, which is real-time data.”

D-H recently began using real-time data analytics and predictive technologies to help people suffering from chronic knee pain to choose wisely and improve their outcomes. SAP HANA powers this new capability for the Lebanon, N.H.-based academic health system, which serves approximately 1.2 million patients across New England.

“It is actually a partnership to help people get through this,” Sparks said. “And it’s the analysis of data that adds to their ability to make a decision.”

GreenCare, D-H’s initiative to improve the patient care experience, uses patient-focused, science-based surveys and other data to evaluate options, mitigate costs and avoid unnecessary procedures.

“I didn’t have to have knee surgery,” D-H patient Adele Kalil said in an SAP video. “It was such a relief.”

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“Having knee replacement surgery was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my entire life,” D-H patient Bob Radler said.

Opting In

But another D-H patient, Bob Radler, chose knee replacement surgery in both legs after other procedures hadn’t helped him return to an active lifestyle with his family.

“Having knee replacement surgery was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my entire life,” Radler said in an SAP video. “Just the feeling of being back on skis and not having pain — I still remember that moment very well.”

Most physicians have information they need, but it rarely makes its way to the patient, according to Sohail Mirza, chair of D-H’s orthopedics department. Mirza’s department and SAP are changing that via measurements, surveys and very specific data analyses.

“We should learn from every patient, and use technology to make the very next patient benefit from that knowledge,” Mirza said in an SAP video. “That’s huge.”

Follow Derek on Twitter: @DKlobucher

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