Connecting mobile devices with EMRs

By John Farrell
10:16 AM

Coming on the heels of news that the patient monitoring system market will reach $9.3 billion in 2014, IBM has announced it's expanding its Health Analytics Solution Center in Dallas. Company officials say teams there are working to help physicians connect smart phones, tablets and other devices to electronic medical records, while also helping healthcare providers build new solutions for remote patient monitoring.

As part of this expansion, the center is incorporating some of the same technology used in IBM's Watson, the experimental computer system that bested two human contestants in the game show Jeopardy! earlier this year.

Using sophisticated analytics to determine the meaning and context of medical information, advanced health analytics increasingly are being used to help healthcare organizations gain new insight from the flood of health data that is swelling at a rate of 35 percent per year, according to a recent study by Enterprise Strategy Group.

By employing clinical voice recognition from Nuance Communications, Inc. and medical terminology management from Health Language, Inc., Big Blue is working to improve the mobile EMR experience through voice recognition and technology that provides understanding of medical text, similar to the way Watson analyzed hundreds of millions of pages of text from books, encyclopedias and periodicals to compete on Jeopardy!.  Ultimately, this should enable caregivers to derive more insight from medical notes, exams and pathology reports that now can be evaluated and compared electronically.

The idea is leverage analytics to determine hidden meaning buried in medical records, pathology reports, images and comparative data, so that computers can extract relevant patient data and present it to physicians, improving patient care in the process.

IBM also is expanding its RPM work at the center, helping hospitals integrate and connect devices from among different manufacturers, enabling patients to be closely monitored from home.
"For example, remote monitoring can be used after a patient leaves the hospital to watch for complications post-discharge," according to a company statement. "By feeding important data such as temperature, blood pressure, pulse oximeter readings, and even when medications are taken automatically by an application on a Bluetooth smart phone, a nurse care coordinator can monitor the patient in real-time. This allows patients to recover in a comfortable setting, while still enabling caregivers to take action if and when needed."

Since opening its doors in late 2009, the Health Analytics Solution Center has worked with more than 150 hospitals, health plans and other healthcare organizations. The center is touted as the first of its kind to address the need for advanced analytics across the health care industry, taking advantage of increased computing power to collect and analyze data streaming in from sensors, patient monitoring systems, medical instruments and handheld devices as well as the massive volumes of data generated by hospitals.

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