Using Real Time Analytics to Improve Patients Safety

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Hospitals are drowning in data.  Sure, you think, that’s why they’ve implemented Electronic Medical Records (EMR) to consolidate some of that data.  Well, yes, but also consider the typical Intensive Care Unit (ICU).  The ICU is the original intelligent, instrumented, and interconnected unit.  From cardiac monitors that show heart rhythms to cardiac catheters that show inter-heart pressure, from oxygen saturation monitors to ventilators that show title volume, from automatic blood pressure cuffs to bedside digital x-rays, the nurses’ station in an ICU is awash in data – much more data than a caregiver can ever possibly absorb.

And all this data tells a story – not just about immediate patient health, but about long-term hospital health.  With the correct real time analytics program in place, hospitals monitoring data can predict if a patient will get sicker and address the issues before this happens, not simply treat the symptoms afterwards.

In fact, the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children uses over 1000 points of unique data per second to monitor babies in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  This data lets doctors predict life-threatening infections up to 24-hours faster. View this video.


The General Ward of Tomorrow

As you can see, patients in an ICU are monitored incredibly closely.  On a hospital’s general ward, patients are not monitored as closely – because while the instruments exist, the staffing does not.  But using real time analytics to analyze the data, can help make the ICU the general ward of tomorrow. 

The general ward, like the ICU, is becoming more and more instrumented everyday – blood pressure monitors and blood glucose monitors have sensors – even some beds have sensors. By using predictive analytics to comb through data from these instruments in general wards, hospitals can create early warning systems to prevent adverse events from happening in general wards.  For example, you will be able to help reduce the risk of nosocomial – or hospital-acquired – infections.  Nosocomial infections such as pneumonia, or MRSA, or MRSE occur for a variety of reasons.  By seeing in real-time what is occurring across the entire patient population, hospitals can react quickly to stem the spread of these infections, improving patient outcomes, and reducing medical expense.

Ultimately you can create a real time command and control type centre across a hospital to have a full real time view of what is happening across the hospital and you can predict and prevent serious adverse health events before they happen.

It used to be that analytics were employed in the research labs, but as you can see, they can lead to breakthroughs in the hospital, as well.  Visit the IBM Big Data Hub to get more information on big data in healthcare and go through latest blogs, articles, videos, podcasts, whitepapers and reports.

Director, Healthcare and Social Services Solutions Executive, AP, IBM Industry Academy Member

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