IBM and Boston Children’s Hospital Team to Improve Care of Critically Ill Children Across the Globe

International health initiative combines clinical expertise with cloud-based social networking technologies to build pediatric medical skills

ARMONK, N.Y. and BOSTON, Mass. - 26 Sep 2013: IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Boston Children’s Hospital today announced the world’s first Cloud-based global education technology platform to transform how pediatric medicine is taught and practiced around the world. The initiative aims to improve the exchange of medical knowledge on the care of critically ill children no matter where they live.

                         The Global Pediatric Skills Epidemic: Boston Children's Hospital Uses Cloud-based, Social Learning Tools to Fill Gaps in Medical Knowledge

Every year, nearly 7 million children under age 5 die from illnesses like pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria despite the availability of life-saving medical solutions. The new Cloud-based technology platform – called OPENPediatrics – equips doctors and nurses with the knowledge and skills they need to save children’s lives during intensive care situations. As the platform grows, content will extend beyond critical care. 

Developed in IBM Labs in Cambridge, Mass., OPENPediatrics trains medical professionals using a unique on-demand, interactive, digital and social learning experience, equipping them to perform life-saving procedures and treatments for children who would not otherwise have access to intensive care. The content is supplied by experts at Boston Children’s Hospital and includes seminars from international expert clinicians. 

The benefit of Cloud, particularly in under-developed nations, is that it overcomes the need to build a global technology infrastructure in favor of a highly efficient, cost-effective model. IBM has invested more than $4 billion in software acquisitions and organic development to build out its global cloud portfolio, which is based on open standards. By putting OPENPediatrics in the cloud, clinicians are guaranteed to have access to the latest medical information, training modules, best practices, and social interactions between users. 

“Nothing breaks down walls and brings people together like caring for a critically ill child," said Jeffrey Burns, MD, MPH, chief of Critical Care Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. “With IBM’s technology and services arsenal and our critical care expertise, we partnered to bring our vision of stronger pediatric care to countries across the globe. In doing so, we’re extending the reach of medical education to help save children’s lives and laying the groundwork for the Digital Hospital of the future.” 

IBM will supply the technology infrastructure, including its social networking, cloud, data analytics, video, and simulation technologies, and combine it with the world-class knowledge and medical expertise of Boston Children’s Hospital to bring pediatric care to global communities. IBM interactive, the company’s digital agency, developed the technology interface.  

Medical personnel can access state-of-the-art simulations, video seminars and illustrations in real-time to treat critically ill patients. For example, these visuals can train a physician through simulation to use a pediatric ventilator. To fuel social interactions and learning, OPENPediatrics will host a global social collaboration forum that connects experts from around the world to share break through findings, best practices and patient care examples. 

OPENPediatrics was conceived after Dr. Burns received a phone call from a pediatrician in Guatemala who needed advice while caring for a girl with a serious infection. After helping the physician complete treatment, the girl survived. Dr. Burns wanted to open this type of critical care dialogue between physicians around the world.

Early reports show that OPENPediatrics is changing the course of treatment. One physician in Israel reported that OPENPediatrics video demonstrations helped him master a feeding tube procedure, to ensure adequate nutrition and hydration in critically ill children and at the Fundación Aldo Castañeda in Guatemala, physicians using OPENPediatrics learned new ways to avoid infections, resulting in a new infection prevention program. In its pilot phase, OPENPediatrics is being used by more than 1,000 doctors and nurses in 74 countries on six continents. 

“Boston Children’s Hospital recognized a need to enable smarter medical decisions when children’s lives are at stake,” said Mike Rhodin, Senior Vice President, Software Solutions Group, IBM. “Through the power of social networking and cloud technologies, IBM has been able to significantly advance the dissemination of knowledge around the world to help ensure better patient outcomes. OPENPediatrics is a perfect example of the transformative power of technology to help solve healthcare’s most pressing problems.” 

OPENPediatrics: Changing the Course of Treatment

OPENPediatrics is a cloud-based education platform that uses advanced social networking technologies to share knowledge on best practices in caring for critically ill children through training modules, video demonstrations, simulations, and knowledge-sharing between clinicians. The OPENPediatrics platform includes:

·        A social network that connects the global community of pediatric care providers to exchange ideas on best practices and to discuss questions between peers.

·        On-demand curricula and medical literature on pediatric specialty care. Current curricula include information on diagnosing and treating blood infections, high blood sugar, brain trauma and more.

·        Training videos of advanced procedures such as chest tube placement.

·        Simulation experiences that create an interactive learning environment, allowing physicians to practice comprehensive treatments in virtual settings. 

OPENPediatrics is designed to work online or offline. It can be loaded on a PC or even a thumb drive so doctors in remote locations with low bandwidth can access or share the data. Once connected to the Internet, the program automatically synchs with the most up-to-date training information and social interactions via the cloud. 

Version 1.0 of OPENPediatrics is anticipated later this year. IBM's new social learning platform powering OPENPediatrics will also be introduced more widely into new industries later in 2013. 

Learn more about OPENPediatrics at Join the conversation on Twitter at @BCH_Innovation, @OPENPediatrics and #OPENPeds.  

Learn more about IBM Smarter Healthcare at and join the conversation at @IBMHealthcare on Twitter. 

About Boston Children’s Hospital

Boston Children’s Hospital is home to the world’s largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries have benefited both children and adults since 1869. More than 1,100 scientists, including seven members of the National Academy of Sciences, 13 members of the Institute of Medicine and 14 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Boston Children’s research community. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Boston Children’s today is a 395-bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care grounded in the values of excellence in patient care and sensitivity to the complex needs and diversity of children and families. Boston Children’s is also the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. For more information about research and clinical innovation at Boston Children’s, visit:


* Source: The Lancet, Vol. 376, December 4, 2012

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