Electronic health-record vendor Cerner Corp., which along with Leidos and Accenture is seeking the multibillion-dollar Defense Department EHR contract, took its case to the halls of Congress last week.
Cerner's predictive analytics can save the lives of troops and veterans, the company touted in a series of presentations for staffers from the powerful Veterans Affairs' and Armed Services committees of each chamber of Congress.
Cerner is seeking permission to test its predictive algorithms on clinical data from the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments. If successful, it believes its algorithms can improve the standard of care for sepsis, suicide prevention and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The analytics are software programs that run in the background of Cerner's EHR system, monitoring various vital signs and other data collected during the course of care. For example, Cerner's sepsis algorithm monitors data like temperature, heart rate, respiration and blood glucose levels.
If there are enough warning signs, an alert is triggered for a clinician to respond. In effect, the system uses artificial intelligence to continuously monitor a patient.
Not all the analytics are commercially viable yet but the sepsis algorithm is. The firm says it's deployed in 490 facilities and monitors more than 1 million patient lives daily. Among the users is a Memorial Hermann Health System hospital in Houston that improved its sepsis mortality rate by 1.42% in fiscal 2014, Cerner said.
The firms' other two algorithms, in post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide prevention, are still nascent. It began testing the algorithms about 18 months ago, using data from 117 million patients.
The firm often splits the data set in half: one half is used as a tool to develop the algorithm; the other, for testing whether the algorithm's predictions are accurate.
At the moment, Cerner is looking for its first clients to test the analytics' performance in the field, by prospectively comparing the analytics' predictions to the actual diagnoses made over the course of 12 months.
That's where the Defense and Veterans' Affairs department data comes in. The firm wants to test its analytics against that patient population and calibrate them over a period of three months. Post-traumatic stress disorder patients and those at risk of suicide in the military can be a different population than civilian sufferers, making testing particularly important.
Cerner's offer stands even if its Defense bid is rejected, the firm's executives stated. In Cerner doesn't win the contract, it would simply give the raw analytics to the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments.
Follow Darius Tahir on Twitter: @dariustahir