Smart use of data reduces mortality, complications and costs

November 20, 2022

Gijs van Steenbergen defended his PhD thesis at the department of Electrical Engineering on November 18th.

Cardiac specialists at Catharina Hospital have succeeded in smartly analysing data from care treatments to further improve outcomes of care that are important to patients and reduce costs. For example, the risk of dying during a heart valve replacement fell from 4.5 per cent to 1.3 per cent. And healthcare costs in the first weeks after bypass surgery were almost halved. This is according to the PhD thesis of Gijs van Steenbergen.

By cleverly analysing data, it was possible to implement initiatives in various treatments that further improved the quality of care. When replacing the aortic valve via a catheter, the Catharina Hospital's heart centre saw a much greater reduction in mortality around the procedure than other heart centres in the Netherlands. Gijs van Steenbergen: ''By routinely analysing data, we are able to spot trends. If you zoom in on those trends, you can improve care and reduce costs by making adjustments.''

Spectacular improvements

Another study found that even better monitoring of stopping anticoagulant medication before bypass surgery reduces the chance of reoperation by 3.5 times and the chance of blood transfusion by 2.5 times. "In a short time, we have made spectacular improvements by analysing data," Van Steenbergen said.

E-health and lower costs

In both bypass surgery and ICD implantations - a device used for cardiac arrhythmias - e-health applications have been shown to reduce healthcare costs. In the patient group that was guided with an e-health application, the number of visits to the emergency room and GP in the first weeks after bypass surgery decreased by 44 per cent. That e-health application was developed together with the Heart Foundation. Among patients with an ICD whose box is read remotely, 14 per cent made less use of care.

Data from healthcare practice

To improve quality and reduce costs, Catharina Hospital's Heart Centre uses data collected in healthcare. These data are collected on a mandatory basis, for example for quality registrations at the Dutch Heart Registry (NHR) or because the care transactions performed are important for accountability to health insurers.

The Catharina Heart and Vascular Centre has succeeded in combining these different sources of data, providing new insights without requiring a lot of extra effort. The method used was developed in the heart centre's Top Care programme, which was made possible by a 3 million euro grant from ZonMw.

The heart centre will soon use the method more widely, both for other treatments and in cooperation with hospitals in the region that refer patients to Catharina Hospital. The new method also forms the basis of a hospital-wide programme to measure and, where possible, improve the balance between quality and costs through data on treatments.

Title of PhD thesis: Towards the next phase of value-based healthcare in Dutch cardiac care

Supervisors: Lukas Dekker, Harald van Veghel (Catharina Hospital).


Media contact

Rianne Sanders
(Communications Advisor ME/EE)