Risk stratification is a technique for systematically categorizing patients based on their health status and other factors. It allows practices to more proactively manage patients based on their assigned risk levels and make better use of limited resources. The process generally involves using a combination of objective and subjective data to assign each patient a health risk level — low, moderate, or high risk.
To begin adding risk stratification to your practice workflow, consider the following ideas:
• Use a daily team huddle to discuss and assign risk levels to the patients scheduled to be seen that day or the next day.
• Focus on a specific patient population, such as patients with diabetes, and have an office staff member run a report of these patients sorted by A1C level. For each patient with an A1C over 9, a clinical team member could be charged with assigning a risk level.
• Use designated weekly or monthly team meetings to discuss and assign risk levels to all your patients, beginning with those whose objective data suggest they are at potentially highest risk, such as those with chronic conditions, advanced age, multiple comorbidities, physical limitations, substance abuse, a lack of health insurance, low health literacy, frequent hospitalizations or emergency department visits, recent major surgery or brain trauma, polypharmacy, or difficulty following a treatment plan.
Whatever method you use, risk stratification should be seen as a dynamic process. Re-evaluate risk scores regularly and as you become aware of changes in the patient’s status.
Read the full FPM article: “Risk Stratification: A Two-Step Process for Identifying Your Sickest Patients.”
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