Using health care data to improve orthopedic surgery outcomes

Dr. Michael Dunbar, Orthopedic Surgeon

Let’s talk informatics.

Dr. Michael Dunbar and his Orthopedic Research team at Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) have used Nova Scotia's health care data to gather information about orthopedic patient characteristics and their health outcomes.

Using mathematical analysis, their group has uncovered patient characteristics that might predict if a person would have a poor recovery after surgery. This approach shows how health data can help physicians and policy-makers offer the best possible care.

The next stage of this research is to connect health outcomes to gait, which is how a person walks. This work will be done in a partnership with Dalhousie’s School of Biomedical Engineering. Drs. Janie Wilson and Cheryl Kozey have a large database that contains detailed information how patients’ joints move before, during and after surgery. Sharing information between Dalhousie University, NSHA and the Department of Health and Wellness provides the team with a world-class database to understand patient outcomes after knee surgery, from both the patient perspective (by measuring patient satisfaction), and hospital perspective (such as length of stay or re-admissions).

The long-term goal of this research is to be able to recognize patients who are more likely to have a poor outcome after surgery, but do that before their surgery. This will allow better clinical decisions that may help patients have a better outcome.

“Using big data, surgery using robotics and mobile technology, provides an opportunity to have some vision and rethink the delivery of knee replacement surgery in our province,” said Dunbar.

These steps towards “customized” health care improve our ability to deliver better treatment. They also help reduce post-surgery complications and re-admissions—paving the way to improving the overall health of Nova Scotians.

Dr. Dunbar and his team will be presenting their research at Nova Scotia Health Authority Information Management & Technology’s Let's Talk Informatics presentation: Measuring Outcomes Following Hip/Knee Replacement Using Health Utilization Data. The event is being held at the QEII Health Sciences Centre Victoria General site on March 30, 2017 at 7:30 a.m. and is free of charge to the public. Learn more about the event and register.