The researchers will also use the software to apply findings from Dr. McGregor's body of research to help make "sense" of the data and, in near real-time, feed back the resulting analysis to health care professionals so they can predict potential changes in an infant's condition with greater accuracy and intervene more quickly.
Physicians in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children and two other international hospitals are participating in the study. Monitoring "preemies" as a patient group is especially important as certain life-threatening conditions such as infection can be detected up to 24 hours in advance by observing changes in physiological data streams.
The type of information that will come out of the research project is not available today. Currently, physicians monitoring preemies rely on a paper-based process that involves manually looking at the readings from various monitors and getting feedback from the nurses providing care.
"This research has the potential to greatly impact neonatal care through reduced mortality and morbidity rates and overall health care costs", stated Dr. McGregor. "By merging our research and technology, we are able to collect more detailed patient data in a systematic manner, do on-line health analysis and decision support, and get advanced early warning of emerging patterns that could predict a medical event."
When fully developed, IBM's software will be capable of processing the 512 readings per second generated by some of these medical devices, and UOIT researchers will further test and develop its ability to analyse these vast quantities of data in real time.
Initially researchers will use NICU medical devices in UOIT's state-of-the-art Health Informatics Laboratory to test IBM's software using simulated patient mirroring data. Then the software will be tested using de-identified actual patient data. The de-identified data is recorded in a way that enables researchers to alter some variables, play it back and run simulations for further study.
IBM awarded Dr. McGregor access to the prototype software patented by researchers at its T.J. Watson research facility in New York under its First-of-a-Kind programme, which is designed to accelerate the delivery of innovative technologies to the market and link IBM's research work to real world problems.
"Right now, there is an enormous amount of critical data produced by machines monitoring patients", stated Don Aldridge, business executive for IBM research and life science. "That creates a challenge. The ability to quickly analyse that data and make informed decisions will help improve the overall quality of health care."
More company news is available in this VMW issue's article IBM and ETH scientists advance supercomputing simulations to improve diagnosis of osteoporosis.