Hospitals use cloud computing technique to fight infectious diseases

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Providers have volumes of data in electronic health records, but struggle with how to bring that information to bear to improve patient care.

Drawing in ever-changing patient information, and knowing what steps to take as a result, is crucial when dealing with conditions like sepsis and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which require careful and timely treatment.

Getting real-time decision support in these cases, tailored to individual patients, is what VigiLanz Corp. does. Its enterprise Software as a Service approach is just an example of how providers may be able to call on third parties to layer services on top of existing clinical systems to derive benefits.

VigiLanz’s services are a part of what is termed enterprise intelligence resources, says Tim Morin, the company’s vice president of business development and marketing. The service fills the gap that exists between collecting the information and being able to do something with it to intervene in patient care.

“We’ve built a platform that sits on top of electronic healthcare data,” says Adam Klass, its chief technology officer.

VigiLanz takes in electronic data in real time from more than 400 hospital clients. It aggregates disparate transactional workflow and documentation data from the hospitals’ EMRs, and then analyzes it in real time. Doing so enables VigiLanz to identify clinical issues and enable organizations to react quickly.

The company has developed a rules engine that enables hospitals to individualize their responses to patient conditions as they’re identified.

Two physicians started the company in 2001; they wanted to use data to eliminate patient risk from adverse drug events, medication errors, hospital associated infections, sepsis and other clinical conditions.

“As new data feeds come in from EMRs, it can recognize new viruses and bugs before they spread throughout the hospital, and our rules engine can adapt on the fly,” Klass says. “The rules engine can monitor and provide guidance for the right action around any kind of clinical data that’s coming in.”

Sepsis is just one example of a condition that can be monitored in real time, and standardized interventions can be started as quickly as possible to protect patients from dire consequences that result when interventions are delayed.

VigiLanz can monitor “thousands of scenarios” for its client providers, Klass says, and incoming data can set off rules; for example, one of its clients has 1,500 rules running in real time, and the rules can be changed.

“Any question you can formulate around any source of information that’s flowing in can be set up as a rule,” Klass says. “It can be something like, ‘If that condition happens, I want to see this kind of guidance in this period of time.’ Maybe it might be five factors to be in place before a rule kicks in.

“Some rules are pretty standard around hospitals, while others may be custom events,” Klass adds. “For some rules, there may be 15 different factors considered, and for the rule to kick in, all 15 have to be in place.”

VigiLanz also touts its ability to form communities among its clients, and participants can share rules and knowledge that benefit other members. For example, one community supports children’s hospitals, Klass says.

To better combat sepsis, information from all client hospitals is stored in a data warehouse, and VigiLanz is conducting predictive modeling on that data. That will enable VigiLanz to advise providers on the best ways to assess incoming patients for sepsis, score them for susceptibility and place patients into care plans that give organizations the best chance to prevent worsening of the disease.

With MERS, VigiLanz’s real-time clinical surveillance and quality services have been configured to help providers identify potential cases and begin treatment protocols as soon as possible. VigiLanz also is able to help providers to automate required reporting of infections to the National Health Safety Network, Klass says.

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