Big Data to illuminate national outcomes of cardiovascular care


In Australia, more than 500,000 people are hospitalised for urgent and elective heart care each year. However, after care results are rarely measured or reported as there has been no mechanism to do so broadly. This makes it difficult for patients to make an informed choice about their treatments and for health services to improve heart disease care.

Cardiologist from the Central Adelaide Local Health Network and The Data to Decisions CRC (D2D CRC) have collaborated to deliver a ground-breaking study using over 100 million healthcare records from more than 1,000 hospitals, the first of its kind in Australia.

The project, Observing Recurrent Incidence of adverse Outcomes following hospitalisatioNs (ORION), funded by the Heart Foundation and the Department of State Development has enabled a nationwide assessment of outcomes of hospital based cardiovascular care for common conditions and procedures using Big Data analysis.

The project is being run by Cardiologist and Heart Foundation Future Fellow Dr Isuru Ranasinghe.  

“Treatments for conditions such as heart attacks and heart failure are complex, expensive and have far reaching consequences for patients, yet we know little about what happens to patients after they leave the hospital. How many people survive? How many are readmitted to hospitals? Without such basic information, it is challenging for doctors and hospitals to know if the resources they spend lead to meaningful benefits for patients” said Dr Isuru Ranasinghe.

“The ORION study links together data already collected by hospitals, to develop inexpensive methods to illuminate the end results of cardiovascular care nationally. For example, we found that about one in 10 patients hospitalised for heart failure nationally die within first 30-days of admission and almost a quarter are re-hospitalised in the first month after discharge. These poor outcomes show how much work we still have to do improve patient care.”

The study has identified mortality, readmission and complication rates, as well as variation in outcomes among hospitals. The study will target hospital care for five common conditions -  heart attacks, stroke, heart failure, atrial fibrillation and peripheral vascular disease -  that together contributes to about 90% of all acute hospitalisations for cardiovascular disease.

The project falls under the D2D CRC’s successful “Innovation Exchange” program which has expanded under the name of Fieldscope™, a consultancy arm which helps organisations unlock the value of their data.

“The results of this project will have an immense impact on improving cardiac hospitalisation and procedures in Australia, and do so in a way that is highly secure and protects patients’ privacy” said D2D CRC Innovation Exchange Lead, Dennis Horton.

“The dataset that has been used is extremely powerful. By applying big data analytic techniques to this data, we have uncovered some very interesting facts such as how variable patient outcomes are among hospitals. This suggests variation in care quality and processes at individual hospitals.”

Several early findings have already been presented at national meetings however more are expected to come. The team is also working on developing a method for hospitals to use the data in their systems.

“This research is ground-breaking and could have national and international implications for cardiac care.  The Heart Foundation is proud to be able to support the efforts of Dr Ranasinghe and the Data to Decisions CRC team,” said Imelda Lynch, Heart Foundation SA CEO.

Dr Ranasinghe will present the data at the upcoming inaugural Heart Foundation and SAHMRI cardiovascular research showcase on 27 October.

The ORION study has also received funding support from the University of Adelaide and The Hospital Research Foundation.



Media Contacts

Name: Voula Dimitrakopoulos

            Marketing and Communications Officer

            Data to Decisions CRC

Tel: +61 8 8302 8982

Email:[email protected]


Name: Nikki Barr

             Brand, Communications & Digital Manager

             Heart Foundation SA

Tel:  + 61 8 8224 2851 or 0401 234 469

Email:[email protected]