Microsoft, Johns Hopkins Team Up for ICU Device Communication

Posted October 27, 2015

Microsoft and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have joined forces to improve the interoperability of medical devices in an intensive care unit (ICU). They plan to develop a cloud-based system that will collect data from ICU monitoring equipment and identify key trends to help prevent injuries and complications.

Four million people are admitted to ICUs in the United States each year. During their stay, doctors and nurses must undertake complicated tasks to care for them, which, according to Johns Hopkins’ Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, includes ensuring nearly 200 steps are performed to prevent potentially serious complications such as blood clots or ventilator-associated pneumonia. Still, between 210,000 and 400,000 patients die annually from preventable complications in the United States.

The implementation of multiple machines and technologies to monitor a patient’s status in the ICU has benefitted overall patient care. However, this equipment is not integrated and contributes to an overwhelming environment for patients and families.

"Today's intensive care patient room contains anywhere from 50 to 100 pieces of medical equipment developed by different manufacturers that rarely talk to one another," Peter Pronovost, senior vice president of patient safety and quality for Johns Hopkins Medicine, said in a news release. "We are excited to collaborate with Microsoft to bring interoperability to these medical devices, to fully realize the benefits of technology, and provide better care to our patients and their families. By combining teamwork with technology designed to meet patients' and clinicians' needs, we can make care safer, less expensive, and more joyful."

This collaboration will build on the Armstrong Institute’s pilot program—Project Emerge, which uses a tablet app to coordinate and integrate all of the data from ICU monitoring equipment and information systems to ensure patients receive the appropriate care. Johns Hopkins will supply the clinical expertise to the program, while Microsoft will provide advanced technologies, including Azure cloud platform and services, as well as software development expertise.

The new cloud-based technology will collect and integrate information from several devices and provide critical analytics, computing, database, mobility, networking, storage, and web functions. The final product will allow healthcare providers 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.

"Johns Hopkins and Microsoft share a common vision of providing better care to more people," Michael Robinson, vice president of U.S. health and life sciences at Microsoft, said in the release. "Through our joint work, Johns Hopkins and Microsoft will empower health professionals with easy-to-consume, data-driven insights, allowing them to focus more on patients and less on technology and process."

Johns Hopkins and Microsoft plan to develop the project quickly, with pilot projects estimated to begin in 2016.