IBM showcases patient portal technology

By Molly Merrill
09:31 AM

IBM unveiled its new patient portal on Thursday, one designed to boost patients' involvement in their care and expand the types of information, alerts, recommendations and interactive coaching that providers can offer their patients online.

The company is previewing the system this week at CeBIT, a digital technology tradeshow being held in Hanover, Germany.

The IBM Patient Empowerment System is based on new technology out of IBM Research. Healthcare organizations can host the system and allow physicians and patients to sign in for services. 

The system is a standards-based platform that enables patients to access data from a vast range of sources including third-party health portals, hospital electronic medical record systems, sensors, home devices for monitoring health conditions, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) alerts, medical sites such as PubMed and more.

The IBM Patient Empowerment System was born as a result of the collaboration among three IBM centers around the world: the IBM Ubiquitous Computing Laboratory in Korea; IBM Research – Haifa and IBM Research – China. The technology was  also developed in collaboration with physicians and administrators of the Gacheon University Gil hospital in Korea. Among the largest medical centers in Korea, with approximately one million patients, the hospital recently decided to provide physicians and patients with access to the portal as part of a pilot project to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

“Today, patients want to be more involved in managing their clinical data, and are eager to discover relevant and useful medical information for their benefit,” said DongKyun Park from Gacheon University Gil Hospital in Korea. “By giving patients access to information that is relevant to them in an easy and understandable form, we can greatly improve patient safety during medical treatments.”

[See also: UNC Health Care, IBM partnership to aid discovery of disease treatment.]

Officials said the system is designed to protect privacy at various levels of granularity, enabling members to exercise fine-grained control over the level of information in their profile that can be viewed by others and its usage.

“Most patients do not have the same access to information available to physicians, such as treatment updates or new warnings from the FDA,” said Joseph Jasinski of IBM Research. “And physicians are not always privy to ongoing patient updates, such as eating habits or long-term monitoring of vital signs. These partial pictures limit the level of care that physicians can provide, as well as the care patients can provide for themselves. The IBM Patient Empowerment System merges these realms, bringing important data to both parties.”

Alerts for adverse drug events (ADE) can be created using the platform’s knowledge-bases alongside public repositories for drug-drug, drug-disease, drug-food, and pharmacogenetics interactions; these are then analyzed together with the most current patient clinical and genetic data. The output is an alert that can be given at the point of care to avoid potential harm associated with various drug interactions.

For instance, if a patient is already being treated with prescription medicines and wants to take an over-the-counter medication, he or she would log into the IBM Patient Empowerment System and add the name of the drug to their list of medications. The system immediately crawls through his or her medical data, performs deep analytics, and then issues a warning message with details about a potentially dangerous interaction between one of the drugs they are already taking and the new one.

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

The system also incorporates the patient’s genetic profile that allows it to issue warnings to the patient and prescribing physician if certain dosages or drug combinations are problematic given their personal genetic variations.

Other smart services developed as part of this healthcare portal include socio-medical search and personalized recommendation services. The system maintains a unique dataspace that represents social entities, such as patients and healthcare personnel, and their relationship with medical entities, such as medications, allergies and treatment plans.

The IBM Patient Empowerment System also offers search capabilities and recommendations about patients who suffer from similar problems, potential treatment plans, expert physicians, and more. These features are built on IBM’s Big Data Analytics platform, which can process structured and unstructured data at scale and speed not possible with traditional data warehouse technologies, said officials, allowing the system to discover relations hidden in the data and correlate with external information.