Florida International University and IBM to develop autonomic computing solutions for hospitals

Miami 10 November 2004IBM and Florida International University (FIU) have launched two new research projects that will use autonomic computing technologies to help solve every day challenges in the health care industry. The projects will use policy management techniques to bring more security to patient records and reduce the time spent in the waiting room. The partnership is part of IBM's Shared University Research (SUR) award programme, created to exemplify the deep partnership between academia and the industry to explore research in areas essential to fueling innovation.


IBM will work with FIU professors and graduate students from the Telecommunications and Information Technology Institute in the College of Engineering to carry out research activities on policy management for autonomic computing. The university will leverage its close relationships with hospitals from Baptist Health Systems of South Florida to gather data and test applications.

Existing privacy management solutions prevent unauthorized persons from accessing private information, but do not prevent authorized persons from accessing information "any time, any where with any role". The solutions will bring a higher level of security to patient records by closely monitoring when authorized professionals access private information. Current access requirements are based on type of information accessed and purpose. The new solutions will require additional parameters for authorized personnel, such as the user's location and time of access.

Having to wait to see a doctor well after the appointment time is a problem that roots to the appointment scheduling process. When appointments are scheduled, factors such as how long the doctor's visit will take - which often depends on the reason for the visit - are not always taken into consideration. Determining a more accurate appointment start time is economically significant in health care environments. Researchers will use autonomic computing technologies to address the complexity of the patient appointment scheduling problem, thereby reducing standby time in the waiting room.

"We are excited to have such cutting-edge research take place at our university", stated Dr. Modesto Maidique, president of Florida International University. "Receiving this award demonstrates the fact that we have world renowned faculty who possess the credentials to forge new ground in research and development."

The IBM SUR award is the latest string of accomplishments at the Institute, in a year already filled with important research and academic developments. Researchers at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center worked with the FIU team to determine the scope of the project. Under the collaboration, IBM is supplying the university with an eServer pSeries and xSeries server systems, as well as products from the IBM TotalStorage SAN Switch and the IBM Thinkpad X series. IBM software included in the project are the WebSphere Commerce Business Edition and DB2 Universal Database.

"Florida International University and IBM are working together to remove barriers experienced in today's health care industry", stated Adalio Sanchez, general manager, IBM eServer pSeries. "Today, we are recognizing Florida International University as a leading research institution, renowned for providing opportunity to minorities and graduating more Hispanic engineers than any other institution in the United States. We are honoured to partner with the university for scientific advancements that will have a remarkable impact."

IBM recently announced the latest series of SUR awards, bringing the company's contributions to foster collaborative research with universities to more than $70 million over the last three years. This announcement also complements the recently launched IBM Academic Initiative, a new programme to deepen IBM's partnership with academia in preparing students for the information technology jobs of tomorrow through no-charge access to technology, training and curriculum development resources.

FIU professors involved in this project are Dr. Niki Pissinou, Dr. Kia Makki, Dr. Ronald Giachetti and Dr. Kang Yen. FIU is one of the largest minority institutions in the United States, with the largest pool of Hispanic engineering and computer science students in the country. FIU's College of Engineering graduates the most Hispanic minority-engineering students in the nation.

IBM's highly-selective SUR programme awards computing equipment including servers, storage systems, personal computing products, etc. to institutions of higher education around the world to facilitate research projects in areas of mutual interest including the architecture of business and processes, privacy and security, supply chain management, information based medicine, deep computing, Grid Computing, Autonomic Computing, and storage solutions. The SUR awards also support the advancement of university projects by connecting top researchers in academia with IBM researchers, along with representatives from product development and solution provider communities. IBM supports over 50 SUR awards per year worldwide.

Leslie Versweyveld

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