Duke researchers have created a new web-based application to help doctors assess their patients' risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD).

Over the past year and a half, the Duke Clinical Research Institute has been collaborating with Cerner—a developer of healthcare solutions—to create a risk calculator app for ASCVD. The condition that often causes a heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest or a stroke due to the buildup of plaque in the arteries. 

“With risk scores indicating how sick patients are, building something to improve technology in healthcare would improve patient care,” said Pierre Elias, School of Medicine '16 and cardiology fellow at Columbia University.

Designed to make it easier for clinicians to calculate a patient’s ASCVD risk, the app estimates a ten-year lifetime for ASCVD risk, he added. These estimates are based on community sampling of age, race, sex, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking status and diabetes status. 

The app also takes into account a person’s willingness to take action to improve their health and the costs and benefits of pursuing potential therapies. Geared toward specific conditions, Elias added that the app is an improvement of technology in healthcare, saving doctors time and facilitating shared decision-making between a patient and doctor.

“Using SMART and FHIR open source standards, a specific platform or language, the app allows data and healthcare to be communicated so that other organizations can build it,” Elias said.

With the advent of this app, he explained patients can receive the most advanced care regardless of their healthcare platform, which differentiates this app from its competitors such as the SMART cardiac risk app created by the Boston Children’s Hospital or the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Risk Calculator. 

Although it was initially developed for Cerner’s client hospitals, open source permits any healthcare organization to use the technology to improve health for all, Elias added.

“We plan to take the scores, build them into the daily workflow and continue to use them,” he said.