Microsoft, Johns Hopkins join forces for safer ICU device integration

Azure cloud platform to offer analytics for range of medical device data
By Mike Miliard
11:11 AM
Doctor looking at vitals on monitor

Johns Hopkins is working with Microsoft to develop a data sharing platform that will better integrate medical devices in the intensive care unit and help prevent medical errors.

Together with Microsoft developers, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine clinicians will work to create a technology that gathers data from monitoring equipment and can identify key trends that prevent injuries, complications and other adverse events.

"Today's intensive care patient room contains anywhere from 50 to 100 pieces of medical equipment developed by different manufacturers that rarely talk to one another," said Peter Pronovost, senior vice president of patient safety and quality for Johns Hopkins Medicine, in a press statement announcing the partnership.

"We are excited to collaborate with Microsoft to bring interoperability to these medical devices, to fully realize the benefits of technology and provide better care to our patients and their families," he said. "By combining teamwork with technology designed to meet patients' and clinicians' needs, we can make care safer, less expensive and more joyful."

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The initiative has its roots in a Johns Hopkins pilot program called Project Emerge, which deployed technology to restructure a hospital's workflow in an effort to eliminate the most common causes of preventable harm -- not just medical harm, such as blood clots and pneumonia, but emotional harm, such as feelings of lack of respect and dignity, officials say.

Working with Microsoft, Johns Hopkins will revamp Project Emerge to better serve patients in the ICU. Johns Hopkins will bring clinical expertise to the table, while Microsoft will offer software development expertise and technologies such as its Azure cloud platform.

Via Azure, the ICU technology will collect and integrate information from a range of medical devices, offering critical analytics, computing, database, mobility, networking storage and Web functions.

The aim, officials say, is to offer physicians the chance to see trends in their patients' care from a single location. They plan to scale the project quickly and launch pilots as early as 2016.

"Johns Hopkins and Microsoft share a common vision of providing better care to more people," says Michael Robinson, vice president of U.S. health and life sciences at Microsoft, in a statement. "Through our joint work, Johns Hopkins and Microsoft will empower health professionals with easy-to-consume, data-driven insights, allowing them to focus more on patients and less on technology and process."

See also:

Johns Hopkins lab puts systems engineering to work on ICU safety
Safety demands better device integration