IBM Launches Groundbreaking Health Record System For South China's Largest Hospital

New healthcare informatics suite integrates Eastern and Western medicine, poised for adoption across China and other nations

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GUANGZHOU, CHINA, - 26 Feb 2009: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced the launch of a new suite of healthcare information sharing and analytics technologies at the Guang Dong Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which combines the strengths of TCM and Modern Western Medicine (MWM).  The first-of-a-kind system, dubbed CHAS (Clinical and Health Records Analytics and Sharing), is designed to enable the sharing of electronic medical records (EMRs) that incorporates TCM and MWM data across the hospital network.

Due to the vast differences in theory, diagnosis and treatment between these two approaches to medicine, IBM overcame unique challenges in creating intelligent systems capable of integrating complex clinical data and enabling information sharing between the hospital’s headquarters and its four branch facilities.  Central to the solution is a standardized terminology system that enables efficient sharing of information across different departments of the hospital and, eventually, outside of the hospital to other healthcare facilities. 

By integrating health records that combine Eastern and Western medicine into one standardized system and applying sophisticated analytics, CHAS can also provide a way for healthcare practitioners to more deeply understand which treatment plans and techniques from each approach work best for specific diseases and medical conditions.  Eventually, this aggregated information could help practitioners develop highly personalized treatment plans for patients that incorporate aspects of both modalities. 

CHAS is IBM’s latest innovation to help jump-start the adoption of smarter, interconnected and open standards-based healthcare delivery systems worldwide. Scientists at IBM Research laboratories in China and the United States worked closely with China’s Ministry of Health to design and implement the system, which also incorporates IBM’s advanced semantics technology. The semantic capability allows the system to understand and analyze the scientific meaning of specific terms even when other terms are used in patient records.  CHAS can also process terms in a variety of languages including Chinese and English, ultimately processing all of the information, regardless of format, terminology or language, into one standardized document.   This enables easier sharing of information within the hospital as well as, eventually, outside the hospital to other healthcare facilities.  This capability stands to eliminate many redundancies and inefficiencies currently found in the healthcare system such as the unnecessary repetition of tests simply because two hospitals use different testing equipment with different reference ranges. 

China’s Ministry of Health selected Guang Dong as one of 16 National Key TCM Clinical & Research Bases.  Founded in 1933, Guang Dong is a recognized leader in combining the strengths of TCM and MWM as an integrated clinical services, research and teaching facility. As southern China’s largest hospital system, it handles more than 10,000 patients a day for a total of some four million patient visits a year.  

 “Our hospital has a long tradition of excellence, not only in medicine but in clinical research and teaching,” said Mr. Lv Yubo, president, Guang Dong Hospital of TCM.  “We are committed to maintaining our exacting standards, and IBM’s CHAS technology is helping us do just that by moving us away from siloed, antiquated systems in favor of integrated, patient-centric processes.”  

Across the Guang Dong system, CHAS:

·         provides a reference implementation of an open, standards-based interoperable EMR solution for a patient-centric system of managing and sharing clinical information;

·         helps standardize medical records to streamline healthcare analytics for medical research and quality assurance;

·         enables improvements in the efficiency of clinical services through the interoperable sharing of patient records across branches and regional health institutions; and

·         lowers the technical barriers of adopting internationally recognized standards for the healthcare industry.

“Hospitals are finding it increasingly difficult to manage and share information in the digital age, simply because there is more data being generated than ever before,” said Dr. Thomas Li, Director, IBM China Research Laboratory, CTO, IBM GCG.   “We are creating and implementing the kinds of innovative technologies that will make the healthcare system smarter -- more effective, more accessible and more affordable for all.”  

Because CHAS is built on open, internationally accepted technology standards that include formal knowledge representation and statistical proof of effectiveness, the system will also enable the extended use of EMR information for deep analytics that drive cutting-edge research and innovation in global healthcare.  

In late 2008, IBM announced its cooperation with China’s Ministry of Health to enhance the quality of its regional healthcare service systems through a platform based on open standards and information sharing technology.  By extending EMR and health data analysis across health systems at all hospital levels, the country aims to shift patient loads for more effective triage and resource utilization.  For example, routine visits and simple procedures can be routed to community hospitals, while patients with more complex health issues and treatments can be seen by specialists on a referral basis.  CHAS will help to support and promote this agenda and has the potential to drive further transformation across China’s national healthcare delivery system going forward.  

China’s State Council recently passed a reform plan for its healthcare system that includes spending of up to 850 billion Yuan (USD $124 billion) by 2011 to provide universal medical coverage to the entire population of China.  Similar initiatives are underway in the U.S., where the Obama administration has called for $20 billion in healthcare information technology spending to computerize medical records nationwide within five years.  

IBM’s track record of improving healthcare through scientific achievements and collaboration with healthcare companies dates back to the 1950s. In the last decade, IBM has developed a national digital mammography archive with the University of Pennsylvania; developed a clinical trial participant system with the Mayo Clinic; collaborated with Scripps to understand how influenza viruses mutate and proactively develop treatments; collaborated with European universities to develop better methods to decide on antiretroviral therapies for HIV; launched the World Community Grid, which has done projects on cancer, aids, dengue fever; and much more

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