Children's Mercy Kansas City harnesses cloud services to save the lives of at-risk infants
The Ward Family Heart Center of Children’s Mercy Kansas City has proven that cloud computing technology can help save the lives of infants. Return on investment doesn’t get clearer than that.
Here’s the story. Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is a complex malformation with the highest mortality rate among all congenital heart defects. Babies born with HLHS require three separate heart surgeries over a period of three years. The first surgery occurs at one week of age. After recovery, the infant is discharged home with their parents to await the second surgery, which occurs at six months. This is known as the first inter-stage period. At any time, there are up to 2,000 HLHS infants at home during the first inter-stage period in the United States, and approximately 10 percent to 20 percent of these high-risk infants die at home during this period.
In 2014, the Ward Family Heart Center of Children’s Mercy Kansas City developed a scalable cloud-based multi-facility solution for managing these fragile infants. During the first year, 68 patient families used the solution with no mortalities. Historical data suggests six to 12 mortalities for a comparable population and timeframe.
Cloud computing has played a big role in enabling the life-saving features of the HLHS program.
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“We actually have a platform-as-a-service infrastructure, we house our SQL servers and our web services and all of our software up in the cloud,” said Richard Stroup, director of informatics. “A surface tablet loaded with our own custom software goes home with the patient. Then data and videos from parents automatically are transmitted up to the cloud and stored there. We run analytical processes that monitor that data on a real-time basis. So from the cloud, if a patient has data that looks suspect or is outside of certain limits, we immediately page a care team and they contact the patient and find out what’s going on, and they can see the records and the videos of the child.”
The HLHS program features a web site for caregivers at all facilities where they can log into the cloud directly to manage their patients, review results, watch videos, and graph and chart all labs.
Stroup will be speaking on cloud computing’s role in the HLHS program at the HIMSS and Healthcare IT News Cloud Computing Forum in Orlando, Florida, on February 19, during the 2017 HIMSS Conference & Exhibition.
The HLHS program started on in-house servers but when the Ward Family Heart Center of Children’s Mercy Kansas City decided to expand the program beyond its four walls, it moved everything to the cloud.
“As we developed things and got a year’s worth of facts that none of our patients had expired when we put them on this system, we decided it would be a really good solution for other facilities, not just ours,” Stroup said. “There are 116 congenital heart programs that do these very high-risk surgeries throughout North America, and there was an immense amount of interest in our system. So we said why don’t we make it available to all of these facilities. The only way we could do that was to come up with a centralized service that wasn’t residing in our hospital, and the cloud was a perfect solution for that.”
The solution that resides in the cloud is multi-tenant, so that every organization’s data goes into the same infrastructure but is completely segregated by facility and location.
“In January 2016, Seattle Children’s Hospital came onboard, and they have been using it with their patients, and it has been very well received,” Stroup said. “Our next facility will come onboard in February, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. And we have another six to eight lined up and ready to go as soon as we can process the legal and regulatory matters.”
Stroup is a firm believer in cloud computing, and said it is an important trend in healthcare.
“In general, I’m a believer that the day of your own little data center will be over soon thanks to the cloud,” he said. “Everything will be moving up to the cloud, even data centers for facilities. It no longer makes a lot of sense to have your own large staff and manage your own upgrades. Your data center, disaster recovery program, most of these things just go away with the cloud.”
Stroup’s session, “Cloud-based Multi-facility Remote Patient Monitoring of High-risk Infants,” is scheduled to take place at 10:55-11:25 a.m. in the Plaza International Ballroom.
HIMSS17 runs from Feb. 19-23, 2017 at the Orange County Convention Center.
This article is part of our ongoing coverage of HIMSS17. Visit Destination HIMSS17 for previews, reporting live from the show floor and after the conference.