Decision Point Informatics' HEART Pathway screenshot

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NC IDEA announces five North Carolina startups as fall grant winners and recipients of a collective $250,000. This story is part of a series of profiles on the winners.

There’s a distance in time between when researchers discover clinical guidelines to improve healthcare and when the new standards are actually put into use on a daily basis. And in some cases, the new guidelines never come to fruition. 

Closing the gap is a feat, and it’s one that includes a wide range of hurdles. But that doesn’t impede Decision Point Informatics from getting it done.

The Winston-Salem startup’s goal is to keep those new guidelines alive, equipping doctors with research-backed tools that can be used to reduce unnecessary over-testing, while improving patient outcomes and lowering healthcare costs. 

The company is run by a small team of experienced academic physicians. Founder and CEO Iltifat Husain, for instance, is an assistant professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, where he teaches a curriculum based on mobile medicine. A serial entrepreneur, he's also the founder and editor of an online medical technology commentary/review publication called iMedicalApps.

Decision Point’s advisors are Michelle Lin, an emergency medicine professor at the University of California San Francisco, and Salim Rezaie, an assistant program director of emergency medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

The startup’s debut tool, HEART Pathway, is a mobile app that enables physicians and hospitals to properly assess the risk of discharging/retaining emergency room patients with chest pain.

It’s reinforced by a randomized trial study published in Circulation, a medical journal within the American Heart Association network.

The results found that use of the app in emergency room settings reduced any cardiac testing that might have been unnecessary and shortened the length of patient stay by boosting the amount of early discharges for healthy patients. 

None of the early discharged patients had major adverse cardiac events within 30 days of their release.

So far, the technology has been used on 10,000 emergency room patients, saving over $7 million in needless costs. 

Decision Point Informatics’ HEART Pathway app identifies emergency department patients with acute chest pain, and then aids healthcare professionals in their decision to release them for early discharge. Credit: Decision Point Informatics
The company’s second app is in the works. It will focus on reducing the amount of nonessential CT scans performed on patients.

With NC IDEA funding, Decision Point plans to finish developing the second app, which Husain says will enable the company to scale quickly. He also plans to implement more health records from two of the country’s largest databases—Cerner and Epic—within the app.

NC IDEA President and CEO Thom Ruhe says HEART Pathway addresses a common scenario in emergency rooms—patients have a less than 10 percent chance of having a heart attack, yet the current standard of care is based on the assumption that the risk is much higher.

But by reducing costs in excessive chest pain diagnostics, Decision Point is “making the emergency room triage more efficient.”