Abdominal pain is one of the most common reasons for patients to seek medical evaluation. With over 7 million visits per year, primary care physicians and emergency room physicians are frequently evaluating patients with this complaint to determine if the reason for the pain is benign or requires a significant workup and potential emergent treatment.

What may come as a surprise to some physicians and healthcare team members, is that a recent study in Academic Emergency Medicine by Kanzaria, et al. found that 97% of physicians surveyed admitted to ordering at least some advanced imaging studies that weren’t medically necessary. This occurs often during emergency department visits for GI related symptoms. The Medical Algorithms Company has previously discussed how medical algorithms can reduce the amount of unnecessary tests performed in the United States.

In addition to reducing unnecessary tests, medical algorithms can also assist physicians and medical researchers when evaluating patients with gastroenterology-related complaints and conditions. Here are a five examples of gastroenterology calculators that physicians and researchers using Apple’s ResearchKit or other research study designs related to gastroenterology could utilize.

  1. Ranson’s Prognostic Factors in Acute Pancreatitis Ranson’s Prognostic Factors in Acute Pancreatitis
    Over 250,000 patients in the U.S. are admitted to the hospital yearly due to acute pancreatitis. While all cases are serious, some cases of acute pancreatitis can lead to higher risk for mortality. Researchers with interest in acute pancreatitis monitoring and intervention can predict mortality risk in a patient with acute pancreatitis based on laboratory data at admission and during the first 48 hours after admission.
  2. Predicting Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis in a Severely Obese Patient Predicting Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis in a Severely Obese Patient
    Obesity is one of several risk factors for nonalchoholic steatohepatitis. ResearchKit researchers could gather data on obese patients, identified by demographic information entered and then monitor and intervene when identifying a severely obese patient who is at risk for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis using the HAIR score of Dixon et al.
  3. Constipation Scoring System Constipation Scoring System
    Follow-up visits for constipation may be more useful if treatments previously given can be reviewed for effectiveness and further intervention provided prior to the next scheduled follow-up appointment.  Over $800 million is spent annually on laxatives in the United States. This number is likely an underestimation because it doesn’t include over the counter laxatives which patients usually try before obtaining prescription treatment from their physicians.  Involving patients with a virtual constipation scoring system, may improve care for patients and reduce overall healthcare costs. Clinicians and researchers can assess patients with constipation and their response to interventions using the Constipation Scoring System available via the The Medical Algorithms Company’s  iOS or Android app. 
  4. Alarm Symptoms for Patients with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Alarm Symptoms for Patients with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
    GERD is an extremely common condition affecting millions of individuals. With the majority treated by lifestyle changes and/or medications – others with GERD may have symptoms that necessitate further workup to rule out potentially life-threatening conditions. Doctors can easily evaluate a patient with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) if certain symptoms occur that may suggest a serious underlying disease.
  5. Predict the Probability of Functional Bowel Disease Predict the Probability of Functional Bowel Disease
    As mentioned above, abdominal pain is one of most common reasons for patients to seek medical evaluation. Researchers can track individuals using a medical calculator probability score from The Medical Algorithms Company and use the score to help separate patients with functional bowel disorders from those with organic disease.

Medical algorithms have the potential to help physicians identify and treat individuals at risk for GI related disorders. By incorporating these medical algorithms and medical calculators into the assessment and plan of patient care as well as clinical research studies, doctors have clinical decision tools at their disposal no matter where the patient is located.

There are thousands of algorithms among the 21,000+ medical algorithms from The Medical Algorithms Company that can assist physicians, researchers, and other members of the healthcare team to better assess and care for patients.