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Health Outcome is defined as “a change in a patient’s current and future health status that can be attributed to antecedent health care”(Donabedian 1980). Health outcomes can range from having a sense of well-being to significant weight loss or gain, to reduced lung function due to asthma or cystic fibrosis, to death. Factors contributing to health outcomes include patients’ health status, illness, co-morbidities and genetics along with healthcare access, demographics, socio-economics, and environmental conditions among others.
What We Do
We analyze the current state for specific health outcomes and populations, and the potential for improving health outcomes through the implementation of policy and network interventions.
In some cases, an indirect measure of an outcome is used. For example, an asthma attack may cause the outcome of the swelling and narrowing of the airways, which results in a reduced ability to breathe. Often, such a severe outcome could lead to an emergency department (ED) visit or even hospitalization. However, not all ED visits are due to a severe asthma condition, many visits being preventable through primary and specialist care and through adherence to medication.
When analyzing a potential intervention to improve health outcomes for asthma care, the rate of ED visits due to asthma is one targeted measure. In our research, we investigate not only the contributing factors to a high rate of ED visits but also potential interventions that could result in a reduction in the expected number of ED visits or hospitalizations.
Other proxies that can be used to measure health outcomes are utilization of medical and health care resources, such as having doctor’s visits and filling prescriptions, and missed work and school days. We explore a baseline set of metrics for pediatric asthma along with data inference and visualization methods that can be used to summarize prevalent pathways of care.
In projects concerning Cystic Fibrosis (CF), one primary health outcome is a change in the Percent Predicted FEV1 (%FEV1) of a particular patient. This specific medical measurement is both the underlying health outcome and the indicator that a health outcome has occurred. Using the patient-level registry data provided by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, we evaluate whether there is a statistically significant association between health outcomes, particularly %FEV1, and geographic access to accredited CF clinics while controlling for genetics of the patients as well as age, demographics and socio-economic status.