Metro Spinal Clinic uses IBM analytics to manage patients' pain

Software records and collates patient data to enable doctors to track a patient's progress over time

The Melbourne-based Metro Spinal Clinic has enlisted analytics software from IBM to track and record data to better manage patients' pain.

The spinal pain and intervention facility, which treats an average of 450 new patients per month, is primarily a day-care hospital although some patients require overnight stays.

The clinic implemented IBM SPSS Data Collection Web Interviews as part of a data collection system the facility has been developing for some years called Clinical Intelligence.

Metro Spinal Clinic musculoskeletal physician, David Vivian, told Computerworld Australia that the clinic collects data about patients to examine at how they respond to treatments.

“We do high-end pain management treatments, like put electrical devices in people’s spines, burn nerves and do epidurals,” Vivian said. Vivian said that doctors need to be track patients' progress and collate the information.

Prior to going paperless with the new system, patients had to fill out a significant amount of forms, with the data then entered into an Excel spreadsheet.

“No-one could ever be bothered doing all that so the forms built up into a large pile and patients were sick of them,” Vivian said. “So we found the patients weren’t compliant with the task, the staff hated it, it was costly and we weren’t getting anywhere.”

The facility outsourced the build of Clinical Intelligence to a team in Buenos Aires. The system took several years to develop and enables data to be entered online by the patient. During this time, the clinic also sought software to complement the system by collating the data and answering any questions asked by the staff.

IBM was selected over a host of other vendors due to its capacity to “handle everything” the clinic needed to do, Vivian said.

“The questionnaires in the Clinical Intelligence system involve patients filling in the information online and then that information is picked up by the IBM system. It sucks out all the data and puts into a reasonable form that we can extract information from.

“We build extraction paradigms so I can just ask questions about various things I want to look at in my overall patient database and I just click and it comes up automatically.”

According to Vivian, the clinic uses the software to obtain initial information from a patient and then more information six months down the track. The system can then provide a graph of the pain and how it has changed, and staff members have the ability to pull up a depression index or a general health index.

“I might then ask the system about a scenario of a 25 year old woman who has had this procedure: What’s the average response over two years? Boom, up it comes on the screen with a graphical representation on top of it, so you can see if someone is doing better or why they aren’t doing so well.”

Vivian said the main delays during implementation were due to interface problems.

“As a medical practice we also have software packages to enter patients in as they come into the clinic, so to interface all the information back into the software was complex, but once we set that up as a system that was fairly seamless and happened rapidly.”

Since implementing the analytics software, Vivian said compliance with filling out forms has gone from 60 per cent to 90 per cent and above, despite some elderly patients still being reluctant to use the online system.

For staff, Vivian notes it has made workflow easier and more seamless, leaving him to discuss “real” issues with patients and reducing administration time.

“Patients and staff really love it and it makes the practice much more efficient. You can extract data when you want to without having to go and look up other files and it makes the practice a lot safer and more accountable.”

The clinic is also nearing the completion of an Android-based tablet implementation, Vivian said, which will support a Flash file pain diagram that patients can fill in.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags e-healthMetro Spinal ClinicIBM analytics

More about ExcelIBM AustraliaIBM AustraliaSPSS

Show Comments