IBM donates technology for open source innovation

By Mike Miliard
11:05 AM

IBM announced Monday that it will donate a portion of its Blue Spruce Project code to the Dojo Foundation’s Open Cooperative Web Framework (OpenCoweb), helping enable health IT advancements on several fronts.

The Blue Spruce technology enables real-time cooperative Web solutions. It is already being utilized in an online data exploration system for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded study of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPDGene), and to create customized solutions for the healthcare industry by iTel Companies, Inc.

With the code donation to the OpenCoweb Framework, developers can build new solutions that allow concurrent real-time interactions between remote users and external data sources such as a co-authoring editor. The OpenCoweb Framework is built on Web Standards and consists of JavaScript libraries. The libraries serve as building blocks for Web application developers to design custom solutions such as imaging applications for healthcare.

[See also: IBM, Nuance to apply 'Watson' analytics to healthcare.]

The OpenCoweb Framework is a key component of the system utilized by COPDGene investigators, correlating clinic and medical imaging findings to increase understanding of the disease processes and the underlying genetic factors. COPDGene collaborators from around the globe can review and compare the clinical data and CT scan images of more than 10,000 individuals. The system provides access to selected cases in real-time.

Through graphic representations, the investigators are able to study outlying cases and select cases for further study in order to identify the features and genetic factors that influence the development of specific abnormalities seen in patients with COPD. The cooperative Web methodology of the Framework increases the data available to researchers and provides tools for data analysis. This has decreased repetitive requests for the same raw data from multiple individuals and opens new possibilities for data mining by the researchers.

"The online system we’ve been using on the COPDGene patients is exciting and extremely impressive," said James D. Crapo, MD, a COPDGene executive committee member. "With the online collaboration capabilities we now have at our fingertips, we’re in constant communication and are uncovering key trends that will help us to better understand the disease."

[See also: IBM launches massive health data research project.]

The code that was donated to the OpenCoweb Framework is part of IBM’s Project Blue Spruce. Project Blue Spruce allows people to simultaneously interact and update content in real-time via a Web browser on computers and the Apple iPad and includes video chat.

iTel Companies, Inc. is using the IBM Blue Spruce Project code for its mental health offering, iTelepsych. iTelepsych will allow patients to virtually meet and communicate with psychologists, psychiatrists and master therapists via video conferencing for real-time medical treatment from any location with an internet connection.

The offering also provides medical professionals the ability to expedite critical decision making by allowing them to simultaneously manipulate data and collaboratively discuss brain images and lab results. iTelepsych can be customized for individual healthcare providers, and can provide a cohesive experience for the patient by being the portal to HIPAA compliant telehealth consultations.

"iTelepsych helps doctors easily establish a practice with patients who are not able to leave their homes or attend typical office for appointments," said Eric Greenman, MD, chief executive officer iTel Companies. "Now, with Blue Spruce technology from IBM, people can access the mental healthcare they need even if they cannot come to a doctor’s office."

"IBM believes an ongoing commitment to open source and cooperative applications is a critical component for building a smarter, healthier planet," said David Boloker, chief technology officer, emerging technologies at IBM. "We are pleased to open code and drive innovation in partnership with the Dojo Foundation Project in an effort to streamline and enhance research and real-time interactive analysis of participant data."

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