If we have to be hospitalized, most of us hope to leave healthier than when we entered – or at least well on the road to recovery. But not everyone does.

Some patients head home and find themselves getting sicker instead of better, requiring even more treatment. Some even end up back in the hospital. What’s the difference between patients who make a full recovery and patients who don’t? One major factor is what doctors and nurses call “frailty” — a constellation of factors that include age, nutrition, psychological health, social supports and more.

When UNCG Assistant Professor of Nursing Deborah Lekan did her dissertation on frailty several years ago, she did a painstaking analysis of information drawn from electronic health records, which had just begun to change how nurses and other providers cared for patients.

“I basically had PDF copies of nursing documentation and physician notes,” she says.

Getting the information was time consuming and limited by how many records she could analyze herself.

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Originally published Spring 2019.