Should Every Patient Have a Number of Health Scores?

In today’s #HITsm chat, I saw an interesting tweet from Gus Gilbertson (@gusgilbertson) about incorporating various environmental scores into the healthcare analysis we do:

Which I retweeted with a question:

In another tweet (which I can’t seem to find), someone else suggested that every patient should have a health score as well. I think it’s interesting that Gus compared these scores to the FICO score that we each have. Would it make sense for every patient to have their own FICO like health score?

My question above was sincere: Would a score be enough to do any good?

My feeling is that the answer to that is no. Unless of course we were given a whole range of scores as opposed to one overall health score. For example, maybe we’re given a diabetes score and a cholesterol score and a heart disease score, etc. If we were actually treating a healthy patient and trying to keep them healthy, then having these scores could help a doctor focus on the things that were most at risk for a patient. Plus, the change in score could help the doctor tell a story to the patient which would hopefully encourage the patient to change some behaviors like eating right or exercise.

I’ve seen some related scoring in hospitals already. The Rothman index is one example. As I understand it, that index essentially scores a patient in the hospital on how they’re doing and if that patient’s condition is deteriorating. Could we apply that same principle to a patient’s health status? Even those patients who “feel” healthy?

What’s clear to me is that we have too much data that’s heading doctors way. We need to find some way to present this data and the change in data to the doctor so they can actually use that data for the patient’s benefit. Plus, the data might promote a patient to seek medical care earlier. No doubt all of these changes will transform how we think about medical care. I think that’s a very good thing!

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Interoperability should accomplish this goal. There are enough issues with accurate Problem Lists let alone a scoring system. If your FICO score is incorrect it takes considerable effort to correct it, in the mean time the inaccurate score affects your credit rating. How would inaccurate scoring systems label an individual and because it is a health value, does the general population know enough to request changes. Too dangerous.

  • Steve,
    Good point. What can we learn from those scores? Could we apply something similar to other parts of healthcare?

    You make a good point. There’s definitely risks. However, there are risks in not having the scores too. Plus, could those scores encourage the patient to be more involved in their care? If so, then that would be a very good thing.

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