Technology combines array of monitoring into single information stream

Doctors at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta are using health IT to combine complex streams of data collected by multiple machines used in critical care into a single report they hope will provide a comprehensive picture of a patient's condition, the Associated Press reported.

It's part of healthcare's emerging efforts to make big data actionable, including through the use of predictive medicine.

"If you were to ask me, 'What's been going on with this patient for the last minute? The last five minutes? The last 30 minutes?' I couldn't tell you. There's so much data going by," Tim Buchman, M.D., director of the Emory Center for Critical Care, told the AP.

For his study, information from patient monitoring systems is consolidated and fed to IBM software that can analyze more than 1,000 data points per patient per second, according to the article.

Some of the resulting data can signal atrial fibrillation in the heart, for example, allowing doctors to intervene and possibly head off a stroke. So far, the $250,000 study, which launched in 2010, is focused on heart and lung data, AP reported.

Although the application of analytics to healthcare big data is relatively new, more and more hospitals are engaging in it.

For example, Boston-based Partners HealthCare system is using an "intelligence system for the EHR" (a Queriable Patient Inference Dossier) to connect financial, operational and clinical analytics systems. Utah-based Intermountain Healthcare is working with Deloitte to analyze outcomes in more than 90 million electronic health records.

And Seton Healthcare Family in Austin, Texas, uses predictive analytics to define and engage with high-risk patients, Greg Sheff, executive vice president of clinical services, said at a recent conference of the American Health Information Management Association. He was discussing keys to leveraging analytics for accountable care organizations.

To learn more:
- read the AP article

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