The ePC3 system is a part of IBM's health care efforts in which IBM researchers and scientists collaborate with medical practitioners to develop new technologies and business processes to improve patient care. IBM has launched a major initiative, valued US$100 million, where IBM will draw its expertise in system and information integration, services research, Cloud computing, analytics and other emerging scientific areas to help physicians to develop patient entered health care systems. As part of this initiative, IBM is collaborating with clinicians in numerous medical institutions and adding medical doctors to its research staff.
Health care in China, particularly in remote cities, is often inaccessible and expensive. The Chinese government has pledged 850 billion yuan (US$124 billion) for a health care reform that promises to make health care services safer and more affordable for China's 1,3 billion citizens by next year.
Through ePC3, People's Hospital will be able to create longitudinal electronic health records (EHR) for patients, which will be shared among and updated by patients' health care providers throughout treatment cycles. The longitudinal EHR will enable personalized health assessment and treatment based on patients' individual medical circumstance. Currently, patients' medical records are scattered across various health care providers, often leading to cumbersome patient referral procedures and wastes time, money and precious medical resources. The hospital aims to consolidate seven to eight internal systems as well as connect more closely with other medical services providers.
"We believe implementing a system such as eP3C could help patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure by improving the management of their conditions. This ultimately enhances their quality of life and may even increase their lifespan. And that is invaluable", stated Professor Shan Wang, President, Peking University People's Hospital.
To fulfill People's Hospital's goal to provide standard treatment to patients with chronic diseases, ePC3 is applying evidence-based medicine - including standard and best-practice diagnosis, medication, treatment and care plans - to manage the clinical processes of chronic diseases and provide decision support to clinicians at the point of care. During the long running chronic disease management process, it helps patients and clinicians clearly understand what clinical activities took place in the past, what actions should be taken at the point of care, and the next steps to take. The effectiveness of applying guidelines to treat medical conditions will be analyzed, which allows clinicians to improve the clinical process to enhance patient care. The project will focus its initial efforts on diabetic patients in the chronic disease management programme.
Developed as part of IBM Research's First-Of-A-Kind programme, ePC3 also provides a health care mobile enablement platform to support round-the-clock remote care and monitoring services, timely diagnosis and pro-active intervention. In the future, vital physiological data such as body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and cardiogram and blood sugar level could be constantly monitored by mobile devices at their homes and fed into the system instantly. When any change or irregularity happens for a sustained period of time, the system will automatically generate an alert to the patient and his or her health care specialists to enable immediate actions.
The hospital plans to provide the new services to patients of selected hospital and community clinics beginning in early 2011. Following the completion of this pilot project, People's Hospital plans to expand the system to further facilitate a more evidence-based, patient-centric approach across the hospital's regional network of care. Citizens will be able to obtain medical services in their local community rather than going to urban hospitals for minor illnesses. Patients with more complicated conditions will be referred to central hospitals and specialists.
"As the Chinese government is trying to address the issue of isolated and disparate systems located across hospitals and medical centres, we are excited to participate in the ePC3 project which we believe can contribute to China's efforts in healthcare reform", stated Dr. Thomas Li, director of IBM Research - China & Chief Technology Officer, IBM Greater China Group.
To address the rising demand for information technology-enabled health care solutions in China, IBM opened a Healthcare Industry Solutions Lab in Beijing, where IBM experts work with hospitals and medical service providers to develop health care and medical systems.
IBM's track record of helping to improve health care through scientific achievements and collaboration with health care companies dates back to the 1950s. In the last decade alone, IBM has collaborated with Scripps Research Institute to understand how influenza viruses mutate, worked with European universities to develop better HIV antiretroviral therapy methods and launched the World Community Grid, which has done projects on cancer, aids, dengue fever among other groundbreaking health care innovations. More IBM news is available in this VMW issue's article ActiveHealth and IBM pioneer Cloud computing approach to help doctors deliver high quality and cost-effective patient care.