All-Physician Team From MedStar Health Wins Code-A-Palooza

A team of MedStar Health physicians at the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2) recently won an intense, government-sponsored competition to develop a computer-based application that employs multiple sources of healthcare data to help doctors deliver high-quality, low-cost care. The competition, Code-a-palooza, was part of Health Datapalooza IV, held June 3-4 in Washington, D.C., an annual event that brings together a broad coalition of policymakers, consumers and leading experts in government, industry and health care to showcase innovative applications of health data to improve quality and lower costs.

The competing teams were given the same challenge—with only 44 hours to develop it: build an app, tool or product that could be directly used by primary care providers and/or their office staff to improve the quality of care they deliver toward the total health of their patients. The MI2 team was made up solely of physicians, and they competed against professional coders. The MI2 team, called the Hippocratic Code, comprises Peter Kuehl, MD, PhD; Kevin Maloy, MD; Hank Rappaport, MD; and Ed Tori, DO.

The MI2 team designed an application that could potentially work within an electronic health record (EHR) or patient scheduling system. Dr. Tori said the MI2 app would be integrated into information technology platforms the user is already logged into, rather than one requiring providers to enter another password. Using data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the patient’s EHR, the team created an intuitive display that compiled data about diagnosis, cost of care, quality, recent inpatient or outpatient encounters, and more, into one easy-to-read dashboard report per patient.

“As a physician, I only have access to what is in the patient’s EHR,” Dr. Tori said. “I can’t see that the patient went somewhere else for care or had an ED visit in another town.” By integrating the claims data from CMS with data in the patient’s EHR and displaying it in a graphic format, the physician has a much fuller picture of the patient’s overall health picture and can see patterns at a glance.

At this time, CMS claims data are not easily accessible; however, Dr. Tori said the team wants to be prepared when health data sources are integrated so they will be refining the concept. “Our goal is to increase awareness with a small intervention that uses data in a different way so it can have a large impact,” Dr. Tori said. The physicians were aware that they had a unique opportunity to represent the providers’ need to see data “in a better way” directly to top leaders in government and industry.

The federal government’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology was a major sponsor of Health Datapalooza. Founding sponsors of the event are the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Institute of Medicine, and the California HealthCare Foundation.


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