What is a risk score?

A risk score is tool that can determine how likely or unlikely it is that a certain event will occur. The Intermountain Risk Scores predict a variety of events:

  • Mortality (death)
  • 30-day Readmission (the likelihood that a patient who has been admitted to the hospital will be readmitted within 30 days of discharge)
  • Morbidities (serious adverse health conditions)

How do the Intermountain Risk Scores work?

The Intermountain Risk Scores were created to predict very specific types of information. Some of the risk scores calculate the probability of death from any cause for a specific group of patients (e.g. cardiac transplant patients, cardiac surgery patients, patients with clinical depression, trauma patients being admitted to the Emergency Department, and many more). Other risk scores calculate the probability that a patient with specific characteristics may experience a serious adverse health condition (e.g. risk of fetal hypoxia in a newborn to patients in Labor and Delivery, risk of stroke among patients who have already suffered a heart attack, etc.)

Risk scores are not calculated for every patient, but if you fall into the category of a specific risk score, it will be automatically calculated shortly after you arrive at the hospital or clinic using information that is already in your electronic medical record, and routine blood tests that are usually given when a patient is admitted to the hospital. Once your risk score is calculated, your doctor will use the information to best create your treatment plan.

How do the Intermountain Risk Scores benefit me as a patient?

The Intermountain Risk Scores benefit patients in several ways:

  • Personalized treatment: Knowing whether you are high or low risk for a negative outcome allows your health care provider to more accurately and quickly personalize your treatment plan. Patients who are high risk may undergo additional testing, treatment, and education. Patients who are low risk may avoid the time and expense of unnecessary tests and treatment.
  • Better outcomes: In areas where we have implemented the Intermountain Risk Scores, we have seen reductions in patient readmissions and death.
  • Cost-savings: By avoiding unnecessary expenses, Intermountain Healthcare is able to provide care at a lower cost for all patients, whether you are high or low risk.
  • Faster results: Our doctors are experts, and they do their best to accurately diagnose all patients. Risk scores help them diagnose and treat you as quickly and effectively as possible.

Should I be worried that my doctor is relying on a risk score for my care?

Absolutely not. Our risk scores are tools that doctors use, just like other pieces of information about your health. They can inform your doctor of red flags to look for in your health. Your care and treatment plan is determined by your doctor, and usually a team of experts in many fields. These experts work together to use their experience, most current medical research, and expertise to care for you in the best way possible. These risk scores further facilitate that process to improve the speed and quality of care that you receive.