“Consultologists,” Costs and Length of Hospital Stays

Dr. Mukul Mehra and G.T. LaBorde. Photo by Cary Norton

The sicker you are, the longer your stay in the hospital and the more specialists you see.

That seems logical.

But the correlation between your health risk and how long you stay in a hospital and how much it ends up costing is misleading, says a recent study by IllumiCare, a Birmingham data analytics firm specializing in health care.

While accounting for the severity of a patient’s health condition — tracking different diagnostic related groups and eliminating their average length of stay out of the reckoning — there remains a direct relation between more doctors and more days in the hospital.

Too many consulting doctors and things get complicated and time consuming. “Too many cooks in the kitchen,” concludes the study, hits the cliché nail on the head.

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“Medicine is not formulaic” and can become hyperspecialized, fragmented and complicated by an exchange of information that ranges from “imperfect” to “today’s electronic note being a copy/paste/data pulldown of ‘note bloat.'”

“Past three providers and three days, each additional provider adds 0.58 days to length of stay,” says the study report. Then multiply that by the $1,000 to $2,000 per day cost range of most hospitals.

The study also considered the range of hospital doctors’ tendencies to consult specialists, from an average of 4.29 consultations per 260 cases up to 11.84 consultations per 260 cases — a maximum into which falls what some hospital doctors (“hospitalists”) call a “consultologist.”

IllumiCare says its software is now deployed in 120 hospitals across the country and that providers drop their spending per admission by $170.

IllumiCare was founded in 2014 in Birmingham by G.T. LaBorde and Dr. Mukul Mehra. LaBorde, CEO, is an attorney who was a co-founder of an earlier medical technology company, MedMined. Mehra, the chief technical officer, is a gastroenterologist who developed the company-owned software Smart Ribbon, which assists in fiscal and medical decision making. Smart Ribbon floats across the top of a patient’s electronic medical record and contains real-time data on costs of medications, lab tests, radiation exposure and the associated risks of treatments, such as adverse drug reactions.

In 2015, IllumiCare won a $100,000 grant in the Alabama Launchpad Startups Competition sponsored by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.

In 2016, the company received $2 million in first round funding from Jemison Investment

Co., Stonehenge Growth Capital LLC and Timberline Investments. The company received $5.8 million in series B venture funding in 2017.

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