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Internet ‘crystal ball’ predicts illness risk

Businessman holding a glass ball,foretelling the future.

|30 March 2017|


American scientists have developed an online risk calculator which can better predict patients’ risk of developing life threatening illnesses than more traditional methods.

The online metabolic calculator, created by a University of Virginia School of Medicine doctor and his research partner at the University of Florida, is more comprehensive than the system commonly used by practitioners. It takes into account factors such as race, gender and ethnicity – previously unaccounted for – to produce an easy-to-understand metabolic severity score.

“This boils it down to telling a patient, ‘On the risk spectrum, you are here, and you’re in a position where we’re worried you’re going to have a cardiovascular event in the next 10 years,'” explained Mark DeBoer, MD, of the UVA School of Medicine and the UVA Children’s Hospital. “My hypothesis is that the more specific information you can give to individuals at risk, the more they will understand it and be motivated to make some changes.”

Dr Matthew Gurka, from the University of Florida, partnered with DeBoer to produce the metabolic crystal ball, which is available online.

DeBoer added: “The hope is that a scoring system like this could be incorporated in the electronic medical record to calculate someone’s risk and that information could be provided both to the physician, who then realizes there is an elevated risk, and to the patient, who hopefully can start taking some preventative steps.”

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