GP practices in Wales are testing a risk stratification tool which is to be made available across NHS Wales.

The Predictive Risk Stratification Model aims to use Welsh data to identify patients at risk of emergency admission and enable better targeted care.

Informing Healthcare, the Welsh IT agency, says 25 GP practices across Wales will test the risk stratification tool ahead of wider deployment.

The tool uses data from primary and secondary to sort patients into four tiers according to their relative risk of future emergency admission over the next 12 months.

The four tiers are based on the Welsh strategy for management of long-term conditions, published in 2007, which divides the patient population in four tiers based on increasing risk from chronic conditions.

GPs, community nurses and case workers are trialling the web-based tool for three months and comparing data on a selected number of patients with their own knowledge of the patient and analysis of the patient’s medical record.

Informing Healthcare said it was hoped the tool would make it easier to coordinate planning, service delivery and care, particularly for those with long term illness.

It said a 2005 study by the National Public Health Service for Wales showed that two out of three people aged over 65 in Wales have at least one chronic condition and a third have multiple chronic conditions.

The practice-based trails of the tool are to be evaluated by Swansea University with results published later this year. Following the pilot stage, the tool will be made available across NHS Wales.

Informing Healthcare said the evaluation was part of the process to turn the tool into a national Welsh Predictive Risk Service.

PRISM is being developed with data analysis company Health Dialog, Health Solutions Wales, Primary Care Information Management and Technology and Swansea University.

Health Dialog has already developed two risk tools for the Department of Health in England – the Patients at Risk of Rehospitalisation (PARR) and Combined Predictive Model – both of which are used by primary care trusts in England to target care and help keep patients out of hospital.