Blueprint for fall prevention can also be applied to heart attacks and other patient conditions

A new approach to preventing falls with telehealth and predictive analytics technologies has implication for other applications of population health data.
By Beth Jones Sanborn
09:49 AM
telehealth and predictive analytics

Physician and clinical informatics fellow Andrew Muth, MD, sees accidental falls as an injury that can be prevented, and predictive analytics as a tool that can help.

“Falls are a common call for EMS providers and there’s a high morbidity and mortality associated with them. There are known strategies to help prevent falls like grab bars, strengthening, ensuring medication adherence,” Muth said.

Muth has developed a fall prevention program that uses predictive analytics to risk-stratify veterans based on their risk of suffering a fall. Some factors that might indicate high risk include whether they are taking strong medication for pain, narcotics like benzodiazepine or antipsychotics, which can cause you to be a little shakier and more likely to fall.

For anyone with a recent fall or history, the likelihood you will fall again, especially within 90 days, is high. A recent stroke or Parkinson's can also indicate higher fall risk. Those assessed to be at high risk for falls get an at-home visit from a local paramedic that includes a physical exam and home assessment.

The program partners with the Tempe and Chandler, Arizona fire departments. After the paramedic’s visit and assessment, the veteran is connected to a nurse practitioner via a telehealth visit. The NP does a full assessment of the veterans needs based on their history and stated challenges. Most of the time the needed services can be fulfilled from home, like orders for medication or medication changes. An occupational therapist can also come to the veteran’s home and place devices like grab bars for needed stability as well as help with other in-home challenges.

If the patient needs physical therapy or x-rays, they would be referred to a healthcare facility.

Muth believes the program can be applied to many other risk categories. And other systems and physicians can help provide a similar approach to healthcare as the program could provide a blueprint for similar projects that could address things like heart attacks other illnesses.

“Being able to serve veterans who serve our country is the most meaningful thing to me and the most important thing to me. Also, this project means a lot, being able to manage the health of a population in a novel way and being able to take healthcare to the next level where it needs to go,” Muth said. “As healthcare shifts to a more preventative model, we’re going to want to reach these patients before they have these emergent situations.”

Muth finished residency in pediatric medicine in 2016 and is also a clinical informatics fellow with the University of Arizona College of Medicine based in Phoenix, a joint program with Banner Health. He practices at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

“Fall Prevention and Fire Departments” will be at 11:30 a.m March 7 in Venetian Palazzo Ballroom E.

HIMSS18 Preview

An inside look at the innovation, education, technology, networking and key events at the HIMSS18 global conference in Las Vegas.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
Email the writer: