The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is getting ready to launch a quality assessment tool that measures patients’ rehabilitation and recovery progress as a guide for doctors and insurers.
The Chicago-based rehabilitation hospital has spent $6 million and eight years developing and refining what it calls the Ability Quotient. Ability-Lab clinicians are already using the tool, and they’ll soon partner with at least five other organizations for beta testing, CEO Dr. Joanne Smith said.
“One of the problems in healthcare is that it lags behind other industries in terms of using data to define quality and value,” said Lyndean Brick, CEO of Advis Group, a healthcare consultancy.
The tools available for rehabilitation today don’t differentiate by impairment group or individual medical conditions, Brick said. Enabling rehab teams “to work together on goals that are specifically benchmarked to individual patients … changes the whole landscape.”
Here’s how Ability Quotient works: Clinicians test patients in areas like cognition, balance and endurance. Algorithms for different patient populations highlight the measures that are most statistically important—from day one through discharge. The data tells clinicians where to focus if patients are falling behind in certain areas.
The more data that’s collected for each patient population, the better clinicians will be at setting benchmarks and predicting patient outcomes, Smith said. Additionally, insurance companies could use the tool to reward quality care with higher reimbursement rates.
AbilityLab plans to give Ability Quotient away for free, rather than charging a fee like electronic health records vendors, because of the impact it could have on patient outcomes and the market.
“We don’t want to sell it—not because we’re not interested in reaping some benefit that would help our nonprofit mission,” Smith said. “Rather, we feel the urgency is too great for this field to not have a real, viable outcome system.”