Four million patients are admitted to intensive care units in the United States each year and between 210,000 and 400,000 patients die annually from a potentially preventable complication.

That’s why Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has joined forces with Microsoft to better connect medical devices in ICUs with the goal of significantly improving patient care and preventing complications.

Built on the Microsoft Cloud and based on research at the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, the health IT solution is still in development but aims to make the ICU a safer environment by eliminating medical errors with a life-saving checklist that operates in real time and changes the way devices in an ICU talk to each other.

Also See: Beth Israel Launches Big Data Effort to Improve ICU Care

As part of Project Emerge, the Armstrong Institute and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory developed and tested an initial prototype for a pilot program to restructure hospital workflow and eliminate medical complications such as blood clots and pneumonia. Taking that prototype to the next level, Johns Hopkins and Microsoft are collaborating on a solution that collects data from different monitoring equipment in an ICU and identifies key trends aimed at preventing injuries and complications that can result from medical care. 

“We need to start thinking about this differently in designing a health system that doesn’t cause any harm,” says Peter Pronovost, M.D., director of the Armstrong Institute and Johns Hopkins Medicine’s senior vice president for patient safety and quality.

According to Pronovost, current intensive care patient rooms can contain between 50 to 100 pieces of medical equipment developed by different manufacturers, complicating the problem of interoperability. “ICUs are jam-packed with medical devices and none of them talk to each other,” he observes.  

Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and services will form the backbone of the solution will that collect and integrate information from a plethora of medical devices and provide critical analytics, computing, database, mobility, networking, storage and web functions. Microsoft engineers are being “embedded” in Johns Hopkins’ clinical areas “working at the elbow of clinicians to see where their pain points are,” comments Pronovost.

The final product, which will be offered through a channel seller or technology partner, will allow physicians to see trends in a patient’s care in one centralized location and let them access critical patient information from any hospital-approved Windows device.

“Our Applied Physics Lab doesn’t commercialize products so we were delighted when Microsoft became interested in this project,” adds Pronovost, who says Johns Hopkins and Microsoft plan to scale the work quickly with pilot projects slated to begin next year. “We hope to have a product within 12 months that could be out to the market.”

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