hospital data managementWe’ve written before about why hospitals need to get better at using data. In this update we look at some of the innovative ways in which hospitals and health systems are embracing technology and the data analysis opportunities that it brings.

Electronic patient records shared across hospitals and family doctors are still something of a pipe dream in the UK. However , the Spine, built and managed by BT, gives more than 900,000 healthcare professionals secure access to a patient’s clinical and demographic information. This is the system that supports the delivery of 683 million electronic prescriptions and 30 million hospital appointments booked through the electronic booking system, Choose and Book.

And in China, the General Hospital of Ningxia Medical University has entered a partnership with BT to develop a system to bring together all its IT systems. Ningxia Medical University is one of the largest healthcare groups in China, running 27 hospitals across three provinces. The proposed new platform will host the electronic medical records system for the group, and also the electronic health record database, decision support system and public health and chronic disease management platform, as well as other services. This is likely to make co-ordinated healthcare much more of a reality for thousands of service users.

BT is also working with Serco Australia run IT services for the new Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth. This is reportedly one of the most technologically-advanced and environmentally friendly medical facilities in the world. BT is also the IT partner for Connexion, Singapore’s first integrated healthcare and hospitality complex and a leading facility in the region. So there is plenty of innovation going on in terms of new platforms for health records, and it will be interesting to see how this area develops in future.

But it’s perhaps the use of cloud technology that makes the biggest difference for healthcare, in terms of the capacity of systems and ability to handle really large amounts of data. For example, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health has recently announced that it has introduced IBM’s Public Health Solution for Disease Management in four major cities, Jeddah, Mekkah, Taif and Qunfudah. The Ministry believes that this will improve communications and provide information more readily, helping to reduce the spread of communicable diseases. Over the last seven months, Ministry employees have used the system to co-ordinate more than 180,000 immunisations and more than 1000 investigations. It also enables the tracking of vaccine location, to ensure supply can meet demand in the event of any disease outbreak, giving the potential to manage outbreaks before they become epidemics.

There is an enormous amount of public health information ‘out there’, but until very recently, the technology has not been available to analyse it. But now two companies, BT and Accelrys Inc. have announced that they have used cloud technology, combined with Accelrys’ Enterprise Platform and Pipeline Pilot to analyse massive datasets and gain new insights into disease prevalence, impact of ethnic mix and adverse drug reactions.

The datasets included in the analysis are publicly available health system and social care information, primarily from the UK, and hosted in the UK and USA. BT and Accelrys report that they have been able to analyse these large amounts of data and provide valuable information from the mass. They intend this analysed information to be available globally, for use by the life science and healthcare industries, to allow scientists to ‘focus on science’ and not on information management.

Leif Pedersen, the senior vice president of marketing, product management and corporate development, Accelrys, maintains that the generation of ever-increasing amounts of health data is both a blessing and a curse, as they are data-rich, but often information-poor. Accelrys is working with BT, to deliver meaningful and valuable insights from these huge datasets.

Although these developments are still limited to just a few areas, they show how changing technology, and particularly cloud computing, looks like being a real game-changer in healthcare systems and management.

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