March 6, 2018 | Written by: Saurabh Mukhi, CTO, Think Research
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Delivering medical care is complicated and becoming more so every single day.
For someone to deliver high-quality care, they have to stay up to date on a plethora of information. This means going to conferences and reading research papers and other publications such as clinical practice guidelines. The challenge is that medical knowledge is increasing exponentially.
For example, there could be up to 2,000 publications per year in the medical journal space. For a specialist to remain current in their field of expertise, they would have to read continuously for 26 hours straight every day.
Aside from the fact that there is too much information, it is also becoming more and more complicated to treat patients who are living longer with more complex conditions. People no longer just have heart disease; they have heart disease and COPD, and maybe they’ve been stricken with a bout of pneumonia on top of that.
It’s unrealistic to think that somebody’s going to be able to stay up to date on all of that knowledge, internalize it, remember it and be able to apply it in a meaningful way.
All of this essentially means that patients may not get access to the best possible care, of no fault of their clinician. In his book, The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande states that experts need checklists to walk them through the key steps in any complex procedure, and this is what led Think Research to develop their evidence-based clinical tools.
Healthcare checklists delivered in the cloud
Think Research’s mission is to organize the world’s health knowledge so everyone gets the best care. The company offers software applications that encompass the ever-growing body of clinical knowledge, which supports high-quality decision making.
The applications include Patient Order Sets, eForms, medication reconciliation, progress notes, eReferrals and more. Think Research’s library of more than 1,000 checklists can be used for hundreds of different conditions and levels of severity by specialists, nurses and other medical professionals.
When company founders decided to do this, they knew their tools needed to transcend legacy healthcare systems so that information could be shared with everybody in the networks. The only way to achieve that level of open collaboration is is through the cloud.
Moving to IBM Cloud
Think Research began its cloud journey in early 2010. At that time, there weren’t many vendors available to meet the company’s needs for scalability or for providing the level of privacy and security that is expected in healthcare and of the utmost concern to Think Research. Because Think Research could not find a cloud provider with whom it could confidently operate in a compliant manner required for the various provinces of Canada, Think Research built its own cloud.
It was no easy task. The cloud had to be supported and secured. Then the company had to earn the trust that all of its customers to convince them that their sensitive information would be safe.
In late 2017, Think Research made the move to IBM Cloud. IBM helped the company get a leg up in terms of entering new markets and scaling internationally. The IBM Cloud is available in multiple regions and conforms to local requirements. For example, when Think Research needed to set up a presence in Ireland, the IBM Cloud enabled the company to do so under European privacy and security legislation requirements.
Many requirements across geographies are similar, but some localizations need adaptations because each country has its own nuances of infrastructure, operations and private security requirements.
By outsourcing the cloud part of its business model, Think Research is free to focus on its core business: organizing the world’s health knowledge.
Benefits to the healthcare ecosystem
By offering its solutions in the cloud, Think Research has essentially solved another problem for its healthcare clients.
In many organizations, legacy electronic medical records systems (EMRs) have proved challenging to maintain and costly to upgrade. The Think Research solutions fit on top of EMRs and integrates information into the clinical workflow. This helps improve the longevity of EMRs, reducing the strain on hospitals by providing additional functionality in their existing environment and extending its value.
Think Research does not create its definitive-source library in isolation. The company partners with specialist groups and uses their clinical research. Previously, the specialist groups would print their information out into textbook format and mail it to their physician groups. This is no longer necessary with Think Research acting as an intermediary, translating their clinical knowledge into practical tools clinicians love.
Another benefit of digitizing the information is that actions and outcomes are easier to correlate. Analysts don’t have to take a small sample of paper-based charts and spend up to a year parsing out information.
For example, at one network hospital, Think Research’s order sets are being used on a daily basis, so there is a wealth of information. They know when the patient came in, which doctors were seen and what medication was prescribed.
Think Research leaders know that by operating in the cloud, the company not only shares information but also bridges the various sectors within healthcare.
Think Research’s solutions began in the acute care setting, however over the last few years they’ve seen increasing traction in the post-acute, long-term care space. Moving forward, the company is rapidly advancing into the primary care arena and looking to unite all these different parts of the care continuum which have historically been disconnected, providing a true system solution across the entire network.