Researchers have developed a clinical decision support application that monitors heart failure patients' medical tests, health status and promptly notifies clinicians when their conditions have changed or when they require advanced disease therapies. The researchers found that the app led to significantly improved detection of disease advancements such as an increase in patients' survival rates as well as improve quality of life. "We found that clinical decision support can facilitate the early identification of patients needing advanced heart failure therapy and that its use was associated with significantly more patients visiting specialised heart facilities and longer survival," revealed the team led by R. Scott Evans, Medical Informatics director at Intermountain Healthcare -- a not-for-profit firm in Utah, the US. Heart failure is a condition in which heart fails to adequately pump blood, resulting in an array of symptoms that include fatigue, shortness of breath, swelling, and a fast or erratic heartbeat. "But patients typically aren't monitored every day and it's hard for doctors to stay up to date on all the research regarding heart failure," Evans said, in the paper published in the Journal of Cardiac Failure. The computer application first identified those with new echocardiograms that showed a left ventricular ejection fraction of less than 35 per cent, which is the cut-off that indicates a patient's condition is deteriorating.
It then monitored their records for relevant signs of progression, such as visits to the hospital or emergency department, lab tests, use of diuretics, technological assistance like left ventricular support, data from EKGs and more. The mined data was then applied to the algorithms. When computer monitoring indicates a patient likely has advanced heart failure, the app automatically sends a secure email to the patient's doctors, which includes the recommended therapy and all the relevant information that triggered the alert. It also lists phone numbers and links so doctors can easily connect the patients with advanced heart failure specialists.