Will Dorsata’s Focus on Data Solve the Inefficiencies in America’s Healthcare System?

February 24, 2014

4:43 pm

America’s healthcare system is expensive, and part of this is because a good bulk of our spending on healthcare is wasteful. A 2012 report from the Institute of Medicine estimated that the United States loses some $750 billion dollars annually to the provision of unnecessary services, inefficient patient care delivery, excessive administrative costs, inflated prices, prevention failures, and medical fraud. But what if we can provide a way to help drastically reduce that spending, simply by giving medical care providers with a better tool for overseeing the individual care treatments of patients? What if we had better access to data that could make the healthcare process more efficient? America – meet Dorsata.

Dorsata is a platform that enables clinicians to view previous and create new clinical algorithms, processes, and pathways that offer the best possible diagnosis and care for any one patient. When it comes to providing medical treatment, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that can be applied to every patient; every person is different, with his/her own unique needs and limitations. Essentially, Dorsata gives doctors a new system that enables them to look at all available pathways to treatment, and choose one that would not only provide the best outcome for the patient, but also reduce the cost of overall care. With access to this pathway data, health providers are able to use patient outcome data as part of the clinical decision-making process and, in turn, are better-suited to coordinate care efforts for the patient.

“Dorsata offers an algorithmic approach to how a patient will go through the system; we offer a step-by-step flow map of how [clinicians] can move patients efficiently through the health system,” said co-founder David Fairbrothers. “Until you know what process you’ve put every patient through, you can’t understand where in the process to make improvements.”

According to Fairbrothers, these pathways are often only utilized in fringe cases, when clinicians are looking to find a particular treatment solution. For him and his co-founder Daniel Gibson, a radiology resident at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, this is utterly nonsensical. “There’s good precedence…that if you use pathways from a point of care, you see a significant drop in cost and a significant rise in patient outcome,” asserted Fairbrothers. Through Dorsata, care providers can learn the points in the process at which they can improve efficiency, such as whether increased support from nurses can be provided rather than having to employ physician services (which is obviously more costly).

But even if clinicians were to use pathways regularly, the content that’s currently provided to them is rigid and doesn’t allow for them to modify it in real-time for unique patients. For instance, if a patient had a restriction on the form of care a clinician can provide (say, the patient can’t get a blood transfusion), there is no way to modify that pathway. With Dorsata, these pathways can be created or customized in real-time per patient.

“This data has rarely been digitized in the past. I mean, about 11 years ago, only 15-20 percent of health care systems were even using electronic medical records. And that’s evolved since health reform adoption – that adoption rate has gone up to 80 percent.”

Dorsata is providing a solution to a problem that shouldn’t exist, considering the technology available to us – and maybe that’s why the company won in the Health category at the Challenge Cup DC Regional Competition. Most of these pathways are published on paper and predominantly continue to live on on that same medium. What Dorsata aims to do is to try to get as much of this data digitized, so that doctors have a better way of assessing the merits of a pathway based on the quality of evidence and research, as well as how it has performed over a set period of time. “Now that we have doctors interfacing with our system, they’re starting to acknowledge that there are many flaws in their current documentation process and how much more efficient their health systems will be having this data.”

Since winning the competition in DC, Dorsata has rebuilt their entire algorithm/pathway builder experience on their platform. They’re also just about to close out a recent funding round, working on a native mobile application, and working with Dartmouth on an initiative. Most importantly, the company has grown, bringing in additional members to their business development team to help with getting more academic and research institutions to aggregate their research data into their platform. And, while Fairbrothers is certainly looking forward to the Challenge Cup Global Finals in May, he adds that improving healthcare, regardless of how the competition turns out, is his main priority:

“Competitions are great, but at the end of the day, I’m really more focused on how many patients by the end of the year can we have being treated using algorithms that live in our system? How many dollars can we save a health system? How much content can we aggregate in the next 12 months? Those are the things that are of the highest importance to me.”

The Challenge Cup is produced by 1776 in partnership with Tech Cocktail and iStrategyLabs.


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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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