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Health IT firm bets on proactive approach to clinical decision support

The founder and CEO of a Minnesota clinical decision support system startup, currently beta testing its technology, believes that most other treatment support technologies are too reactive.

Arnel Rillo, who leads Clinical Healthcare Corporation in St. Louis Park, is developing a tool to better support physicians treating asthma and expects the product to launch in the first quarter of 2012. It will be the first product of the health IT company’s eVeritas Software Solutions platform that ultimately will create clinical decision support software for diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure and hypertension.

Rillo believes that what will distinguish his company’s products from those in the marketplace is the proactive approach the software takes to alter physician behavior while treating those chronic diseases. He said that most clinical decision support software programs are based on old claims data. Those systems also basically lift the clinical guidelines that have been developed on that particular condition and presents that information to physicians without distilling or simplifying the information in any way.

Health systems and insurance companies use the information gathered from these treatment support software programs to go back after patients have been treated to see how that particular disease was managed by the physicians. That approach is not effective, Rillo said.

“Instead of waiting until they have treated a patient and using the information on the back end to get them to change behavior and do a better job of adhering to those treatment guidelines, we try to provide that information up front at the point of care,” he said. “We use proprietary algorithms based on assessment questions that the guidelines recommend and help physicians walk through that decision tree.”

The software also has reporting capabilities that should be valuable to large health systems looking to see how each clinic site manages particular disease states.

“Why is the clinic in Apple Valley doing a better job in managing diabetes than the one in Maple Grove?” is a question that the software will be able to answer, Rillo explained.

The application also requires physicians to explain why they did not follow a treatment guideline if they take an alternative path to provide care for a patient.

“It’s still up to the physician to practice the art of medicine,” Rillo said. “We do not force them down a certain path.”

Rillo believes that the current emphasis on electronic health records (EHRs) and President Obama’s intent to create Accountable Care Organizations is providing fertile ground for companies like Clinical Healthcare that want to help healthcare providers bend the cost curve of healthcare and provide better care.

Rillo said he has been in discussions with individual physician groups, small and large, to gauge their interests in using eVeritas, but declined to name them. The company has also raised some money and intends to raise more to help commercialize the asthma treatment support software in the first quarter of 2012.

The use of EHRs, clinical decision support (CDS) and electronic guideline-based reminders and alerts, are on the rise in the U.S., and a big reason for that is the $19 billion that the federal government made available to speed up their adoptions through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

However, some don’t believe there is a significant correlation between increased use of EHRs and CDS, and better healthcare outcomes.

A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine published in May found that there was “no consistent association between EHRs and CDS and better quality.”

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