The Uppstroms app from Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI won the top prize at the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) Pitch IT competition. The competition was looking for the best new ideas using information and informatics to improve patient care.

The Uppstroms app aims to help doctors be proactive in getting help for their patients. It looks at social determinants of health, like where a patient lives or his access to healthy foods. Then it helps doctors evaluate which patients could benefit from social intervention before the problems turn into a crisis. Evidence suggests that at least one in four adults, and possibly as many as one in two, have a need driven by social determinants of health. Addressing those needs can save a health system up to $2.4 million a year in avoided hospitalization costs alone.

“Nearly every single hospital is working to address patients’ social needs, and most are struggling,” said Regenstrief investigator and team leader Josh Vest, Ph.D. “Our project provides an innovative and feasible solution to help improve patient health and save health systems significant amounts of money.” Dr. Vest also is the director at the Center for Health Policy at IU Fairbanks School of Public Health.

The algorithm uses electronic health records (EHR) data, combining it with environmental and social context, public health data sources on neighborhood trends and statewide health information exchange data to predict the need for a referral to wraparound services like a counselor or a dietician. The app creates and scales a risk prediction score for each patient and makes it available to providers at the beginning of the day. The program is currently in use at nine Eskenazi Health primary care clinics.

Uppstroms was one of five projects to make it to the finals of the Pitch IT competition. The team won $12,500. This is the second year in a row that a Regenstrief project has won the competition.

Dr. Vest led the team, which also included Shaun Grannis, M.D. from Regenstrief and IU School of Medicine, Suranga Kasthurirathne, Ph.D. and Nir Menachemi, Ph.D. from Regenstrief and IU Fairbanks School of Public Health and Paul Halverson, DrPH, the founding dean of IU Fairbanks. They chose to name the project “Uppstroms”, which means “upstream” in Swedish, because it addresses upstream determinants of health.

Watch the presentation.

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