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Joining The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (TQEH) in 2015, Clinician and Researcher Dr Isuru Ranasinghe is passionate about developing data systems to monitor what happens to patients after hospital admissions for heart conditions.
As the recent recipient of THRF’s Mid-Career Fellowship, this research began for Dr Ranasinghe at Yale University where he was measuring healthcare quality and outcomes (the end results of care) in the hopes of reducing hospital readmissions among patients who have suffered from conditions such as heart attacks and heart failure.
At the TQEH, Dr Ranasinghe works in the University of Adelaide’s Discipline of Medicine and is very passionate about his area of research, with a hope to directly benefit patients. He is now able to continue this work thanks to you as one of our generous donors – thank you!
“After finishing my cardiology training I was planning on working as a full-time cardiologist but I ended up becoming involved in research and discovered from travelling all over the country how differently hospitals treated patients for the same condition,” Dr Ranasinghe said.
“What was concerning was that we started seeing very different end results for patients, where some patients did well while others were readmitted.
“Some of the variation was due to the underlying condition but some of it was due to variation in care at different hospitals.”
According to Dr Ranasinghe, readmissions are a major concern because about one in five heart patients end up coming back to the hospital unexpectedly within 30 days of discharge and many of these readmissions are potentially preventable.
“Unexpected readmissions are incredibly distressing for patients,” Dr Ranasinghe said.
“No one wants to end up back in the hospital after being told it is safe for them to go home. It also exposes patients to unnecessary harm such as hospital-acquired infection and is costly for hospitals because the average cost for a hospital admission is around three to five thousand dollars.”
Currently, Australia does not have systems in place to routinely monitor important end results of care such as deaths or readmissions after patients leave the hospital.
“The irony is that cardiology often provides lifesaving treatments but we have no way of routinely monitoring how many people survive (or get readmitted) after a patient leaves the hospital,” said Dr Ranasinghe.
“How can we improve hospital care if we don’t routinely monitor the end results of that care? How do doctors and hospitals learn to improve care if they have no way of knowing what they got right and what got wrong?”
“My goal is to develop systems to routinely monitor patient outcomes particularly in the early period after leaving the hospital,” said Dr Ranasinghe.
By developing data to inform who is being readmitted and for what condition, Dr Ranasinghe said such systems could potentially save lives and save the health care system thousands of dollars.
“What I want to implement, and what the United States do well, is measuring readmissions and reporting back to the hospital and doctors about why that patient came back,” Dr Ranasinghe said.
“If you can see what you are doing is causing harm down the track, you are more likely to do everything you can to make sure that doesn’t happen again. It is an opportunity for doctors, and hospitals to learn from every patient that we see so that we get the best possible outcomes for our patients.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about this research as it progresses, please contact us on (08) 8244 1100.
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