Why Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) Programs are Becoming the New Norm

Multidisciplinary team in a huddle

What is a VTE Program?

A VTE program  is designed to coordinate and expedite the treatment of venous thromboembolism (VTE), a catch-all term that includes deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). It achieves this by introducing a multidisciplinary approach that enables the rapid evaluation of risks, formulation of a treatment plan, and mobilization of the necessary resources to provide the highest level of care.

The necessity for developing this model was based on a series of factors, particularly:

  • Throughout the world, there are approximately 10 million cases of VTE every year. In the US, there are 100,000 – 300,000 VTE-related deaths annually.
  • Survival rates can be significantly improved with prompt diagnosis and treatment. 
  • There are many therapeutic options for the treatment of VTE, and deciding on appropriate treatment can be difficult. 
  • Multiple specialties are often involved in the care of VTE patients.

VTE’s Need Innovative Technology Solutions

The volume of imaging in the health system has placed an insurmountable demand on radiologists. Even with staff on site 24/7, the shortage of radiologists has contributed to one of the most painful bottlenecks in medical imaging and patient treatment today. 

Amongst radiology leaders and departments worldwide, there is a growing consensus that AI can augment radiologists and help alleviate the increasing volumes of medical imaging. AI-based solutions offer the opportunity to:

  • Improve detection of VTE & ensure faster turnaround time 
  • Provide real-time notifications and alerts about CT scans on smartphones
  • Streamline & secure communications between members of the VTE response team
  • Increase collaboration and level of communication between teams, specialists and hospitals
  • Increase the efficiency of patient care
  • Improve processes moving forward as organizations can aggregate and access comprehensive patient data and outcomes

Alerts Are the Key to VTE Operations

The VTE team concept establishes clinical criteria that, if met, prompt a VTE alert. For example, in the July 2021 edition of Endovascular Today, Dr. Cummings of Spectrum Health System noted the protocols of handling VTE before they established an official VTE program:

Prior to current standards, we didn’t have algorithms in place for VTE. The ED had variable direction for who and when to contact and no criteria to follow for VTE diagnosis from an interventional service. If IR was not consulted from the ED, the patient would be admitted and depend on the inpatient teams to guide additional consults. Often, these consults were based on clinical stability alone. There was a silo effect where our communication wasn’t congruent. As we worked to decide on the best intervention, communication could be separated by hours or days, depending on the patient’s status and what services were involved.
Endovascular Today, July 2021 Issue

Today’s approach is a significant overhaul to the traditional workflow for VTE patients, which typically consisted of:

Today, institutions with a VTE program are able to act much faster. As soon as a patient is diagnosed with VTE and meets the alert criteria, the VTE program will be activated by a messaging mechanism (such as email or SMS) and specialist consults – such as cardiology, vascular specialists, interventional radiology – will be alerted.

AI Ensures Speed and Efficiency in VTE Patient Care

AI-driven VTE workflows deliver a series of important benefits:

  • Automation: AI is always on, running in the background and analyzing every exam.
  • Prioritization: AI prioritizes findings of presumed positive cases in the radiologist’s worklist, reducing VTE detection time.
  • Standardization: AI helps to standardize VTE care by triggering notifications to the VTE team or consultants. 
  • Communication: AI allows all pertinent information to be located in one place, and for streamlined, secure communication between members of the VTE team.
  • Transfer Management: AI is the future of team and clinical care coordination as it’s increasingly difficult to transfer patients through multiple hospital locations and clinical services and not miss clinical or other safety signals. 

AI Ensures VTE Care Coordination & Improves Patient Outcomes

Advances in interoperability, information exchanges, and data processing and mining have enabled the utilization of larger and more complex datasets to guide decision-making. AI-based solutions support data management, leveraging healthcare data to improve patient outcomes and contain costs. Care coordination AI is a great example of how AI in hospital settings can lead to:

  • Improved patient outcomes while driving down the cost of care. By directing the right physicians towards the care of an acutely ill patient, the patient’s clinical outcome may improve. Furthermore, AI-powered care coordination of VTE offers economic value, since more patients downstream are ensured receipt of the best care for their presenting symptoms. 
  • Improved clinical decision-making by individualizing the management of VTE; guiding the use of effective treatment modalities; and offering coordinated consultation from a variety of specialties in order to determine the appropriate clinical care pathway for each patient in real-time. 
  • Immediate exchange of pertinent information vital for clinical decision-making – such as the opportunity for physicians from all disciplines to review CT angiography with the diagnostic radiologist, while obtaining troponin levels, blood pressure, and other important data points.
  • Improved time to VTE diagnosis and treatment – the activation of the interventional radiology or vascular team expeditiously with AI-care coordination ensures that patients receive the most appropriate treatment, faster.

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