IBM and Real-Time Big Data in Critical Care and Treatment

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From premature babies to traumatic brain injuries in adults, critically-ill patients often hang in a precarious balance between stabilizing and taking a turn for the worse. Doctors and nurses work tirelessly to keep track of data from heart monitors, respirators, and other machines to help restore health. But it’s not just the amount of healthcare-related data that seems to be growing exponentially — so is the pace needed to analyze it. In fact, big data is quickly taking a back seat to fast data — where what really matters is speed, and gaining real-time actionable insight into your data.

Hospital ICUs create about 100,000 different data points per patient per second, making it difficult for clinicians to keep up with nuanced changes in a patient’s condition. The challenge in quickly analyzing data from ICU monitors may contribute to the 10-29% mortality rate in ICUs, estimated by Society of Critical Care Medicine. Now, forward-thinking institutions like Emory University Hospital are turning to real-time IBM Streaming technology to harness ICU information as it streams from each monitor to catch changes in a patient’s condition sooner and prevent trouble.

Clearly, the stakes are high for this type of streaming technology. Catching signs of trouble even an hour sooner can make a significant difference in patient outcome.

As a matter of fact, this type of advanced care can even begin before the patient gets to the hospital, as demonstrated by the work being done by IBM business partner, Moberg Research. Through their innovative use of IBM streaming analytics, ICU systems can be connected to city databases and traffic systems to help first responders map out the best route to the emergency room. When the patient arrives at the ICU, doctors are assisted by advanced monitors able to measure and analyze minute changes in a patient’s vitals in real-time to predict complications before they happen so doctors can prevent them, like the UCLA Medical Center’s work with traumatic brain injuries.

Below is a sampling of some of the most cutting-edge institutions that are gaining access into real-time fast data insights to advance critical care for patients.

  • Moberg Research is an IBM Business Partner that is using InfoSphere Streams to predict complications from traumatic brain injuries before they occur. Moberg also incorporates aspects of IBM Smarter Cities research into their project to help route patients from the site of their accident to the ICU. They’re currently working to develop their solution with researchers from Columbia University and are constructing their first ICU in a hospital in Zurich, Switzerland.
  • Neonatal intensive care specialists at The University of Ontario Institute of Technology are relying on IBM Big Data software to analyze more than 1,000 pieces of unique information per second flowing from sensors and equipment monitoring premature babies. For the first time, caregivers can spot and take action to stop life-threatening sepsis infections up to 24 hours earlier.
  • Emory University Hospital is using IBM’s streaming analytics software for a pioneering research project to advance predictive medicine for critical patients in the ICU. The new system will enable clinicians to acquire, analyze and correlate medical data at a volume and velocity that was never before possible. The research application developed by Emory uses IBM’s streaming analytics platform with Excel Medical Electronics’ bedside monitor data aggregation application to collect and analyze more than 100,000 real-time data points per patient per second.  The software developed by Emory identifies patterns that could indicate serious complications like sepsis, heart failure or pneumonia, aiming to provide real-time medical insights to clinicians.
  • REALTROMINS is collaborating with IBM on a project that uses advanced big data and analytics technology , such as streaming analytics, to help clinicians deliver life-saving care to critically ill and hospitalized newborns, infants and children in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at the North Carolina Children’s Hospital.
  • Doctors at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles are using an IBM’s streaming analytics technology to better predict dangerous changes in traumatic brain injury patients’ conditions. The breakthrough helps identify sudden increases in brain pressure that can turn deadly for patients with traumatic brain injuries. The new technology can continuously analyze huge streams of patient data and warn caregivers in advance of rising brain pressure so they can take preventive action.
  • Columbia University Medical Center researchers believe that by using streaming analytics, they may be able to detect the onset of a life-threatening condition in stroke patients called ischemia up to 48 hours earlier than has been possible through traditional monitoring methods. They care currently collaborating with IBM to develop a a model for this predictive care.


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