The Rothman Story

The Rothman Story

How Loss Inspired Our Purpose

The Florence Rothman Story brings to light an example of how one family’s loss inspired a purpose: creating the Rothman Index to inform clinical decisions, optimize healthcare performance, and save lives.

Florence Rothman was diagnosed with aortic stenosis, which is a narrowing of the exit of the left ventricle of the heart. It’s a condition that typically worsens over time, with symptoms building gradually. Exercise becomes more difficult.

Florence experienced constant fatigue and hoped to gain relief. A low-risk surgical procedure was available, which promised to dramatically improve her quality of life. With thoughtful preparation, she proceeded to have the surgery. After the procedure, she seemed to be recovering nicely, meeting all the existing benchmarks and looking forward to going home. However, by day four, she became weaker and went through a slow, steady decline that was not detected until her condition became critical.

Each day, the physician responsible for her care would see Florence as recovering after heart surgery, but could not see the subtle changes in her health that reflected a complication. Because the indicators that could have prevented her death were too subtle to attract attention, the hospital treated her primary symptom and discharged her.

Unfortunately, four days later she collapsed and died in the ER from a relatively common, treatable complication that had gone unnoticed and undiagnosed. Florence did not die from a lack of effort. The hospital was a top quality facility with skilled and well-intentioned doctors and nurses. They just lacked a utility that allowed them to see trends in patient health over time. Those trends were visible in electronic medical record (EMR) data, but that data went unused.

"Those trends were visible in the EMR data, but that data went unused"

Florence’s sons, Michael and Steven Rothman, an engineer and a scientist skilled in data analysis, were inspired to give a voice to the EMR, to use existing data to improve healthcare, to create meaning from loss. They devoted their time to finding a preventative solution: the Rothman Index, the first algorithm that derives one simple score from the vast amount of data in the EMR to create a picture of any patient’s condition – any age, any disease, any unit. The score represents a patient’s condition in real time, and can be trended and visualized, warning care providers of deterioration before it becomes critical.

Over 10,000 patients per day benefit from the Rothman Index, giving Florence’s avoidable death meaning and PeraHealth purpose.