IBM launches software to help hospitals and government health care agencies identify and manage medical challenges

Somers 07 February 2005IBM has made available software, shaped by the input of Federal agencies and private hospitals, that enables adopters to exchange clinical data during a medical crisis, such as an influenza outbreak, the spread of tainted or problematic food and medicines, and inappropriate health care, or can track longer-term health problems, such as those related to diabetes or asthma.


The new software helps public and private health care-related organisations to create and tap into electronic networks that provide alerts to unusual medical patterns or crises; identify the geographic and biological origins and spread of those problems; research possible solutions; and allocate problem-solving resources. The software also can enable caregivers and government agencies to share medical methodologies that work best for improving patient care.

The medical communities managed by New York Presbyterian Hospital, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and Wishard Memorial Hospital have tested and validated this electronic infrastructure, as have the Food & Drug Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The software has now been purchased by the Government of Canada to conduct a pilot on an early warning and response system for biological threats.

The flow of health care information is a national priority. On January 18, 2005, the United States Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology finished collecting comments from private industry and public institutions on how health information can be exchanged electronically through a National Health Information Network. The White House is also seeking $125 million for IT health care projects in 2006, and is seeking $50 million in additional funding for 2005, on top of the $50 million already allocated for this year.

IBM's new WebSphere Business Integration for Healthcare Collaborative Network software supports a variety of computer standards, so that clinical information can flow regardless of the underlying computer systems and application programmes used internally by each institution housing clinical data. Few software products enable so many diverse health care computer systems to work with one another. Few vendors also offer such software along with the deep industry knowledge of experts, such as those at IBM's Business Consulting Services, who can implement and customize the technology for customers with great sensitivity and insight paid to the particulars of requirements unique to the health care industry and government regulatory agencies.

The Government of Canada's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Research & Technology Initiative (CRTI) is funding a Public Health Agency of Canada project to demonstrate and evaluate a new bio-surveillance system. IBM's HCN will deliver data in real-time to the Public Health Agency of Canada's Canadian Network for Public Health Intelligence for analysis. Initially, this pilot project will help Winnipeg, Manitoba develop a comprehensive, early warning and response system for biological threats. The goal is to limit the public's exposure to disease and to facilitate a response readiness network for front-line health authorities.

IBM is successfully concluding a proof-of-concept programme with top health care providers across the United States to enable them, as well as solution providers, to design health care collaborative networks. In creating the product, IBM worked with New York Presbyterian Hospital in the greater New York area, Wishard Memorial Hospital health care system in Indiana, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center and health system in Tennessee. As part of a demonstration project to understand the collaboration challenges of sharing clinical data, IBM has also worked with government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Health systems, like Wishard Memorial Hospital, have used IBM's software to reach into its clinical data to aggregate information to observing agencies in a secure and open standards based format for real time message sharing. "IBM's new software can translate to reductions in reporting burden costs and increased clarity in outcome analysis which supports the quality of care delivered to patients", stated J. Mark Overhage, M.D., PHD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Indiana University Medicine and Senior Investigator Regenstrief Institute for Healthcare. "I see potential for IBM's software to be used in clinical trials and other research opportunities down the road."

Vanderbilt University Medical Center uses IBM's new software to notify its attending physicians in the case of abnormal lab results of individual patients. "IBM WebSphere Business Integration for Healthcare Collaborative Network brings a huge benefit to identifying patients at risk", stated Bill Gregg, Director of Health Informatics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "It is difficult to identify at-risk patients with existing systems today. It helps facilitate patient identification and outcome analysis, which increases overall patient quality of care."

Stated Herbert Pardes, M.D., President and CEO, New York-Presbyterian: "With all the sophisticated technology found in a modern hospital, the lack of co-ordination among hospital systems internally and with monitoring agencies seems almost primitive. A seamless, integrated network of information could do as much to protect patient safety and improve patient care as many other medical breakthroughs."

WebSphere Business Integration for Healthcare Collaborative Network is a new software component of IBM's Aligned Clinical Environment for the Health care Industry, a solution offered to health care provider organisations for integrating disparate data for key clinical and research constituents. The solution helps customers improve information integration, analysis, and value by providing actionable data to key stakeholders from a system, community, enterprise or single site perspective.

Faster return on investment is achieved by implementing business projects with a broad choice of applications from IBM Business Partners, combined with IBM expertise and software assets. The unique capabilities of IBM and IBM Partners are enabling clients to swiftly deploy projects that are delivering the business value and flexibility required to achieve sustained growth. More company news is available in the VMW December 2004 article Massachusetts General Hospital and IBM to improve information sharing among cancer researchers.

Leslie Versweyveld

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