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Intelligence aids patient care

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Intelligence aids patient care

Healthcare providers can improve the level of care they provide to patients by taking advantage of intelligent systems, which connect data, processes and devices across internal departments and geographical boundaries.

In addition to connecting disparate data within hospitals and clinics, intelligent systems can help facilitate home healthcare and independent living by helping patients monitor their health and send the information to providers automatically.

Microsoft’s Windows Embedded team, the Microsoft Innovation Centre in Torino, Italy, and Microsoft HealthVault have collaborated with Freescale and Kontron to develop an intelligent system proof of concept that seamlessly connects the Freescale home health hub reference platform, FDA-certified panel PCs, servers and in-home medical devices.

The system enables patients to automatically relay medical data from devices to physicians or family members via the cloud, connecting a touch-screen information display in the home, devices such as blood pressure monitors and glucose monitors, and medical data systems located at a hospital or a physician’s office.

A physician can review information and provide feedback directly to the patient: for example, an updated prescription, advice on how to manage new symptoms or a recommendation to come in for an examination. Family members or caregivers can access the shared information through HealthVault on a Windows Phone or other Internet-enabled mobile device, enabling them to keep track of their loved ones’ health when they can’t be present. The proof of concept shows how an intelligent system can help senior citizens continue to live independently while managing chronic health conditions.

Fabrizio Dominici, head of the Microsoft Innovation Centre Torino: ISMB, says the healthcare intelligent system proof of concept illustrates how intelligent systems draw on both to help improve people’s lives.

“It’s important to solve the problem of assisted living,” Dominici says. “This project tries to create a bridge between people with medical problems at home and the hospital where the doctor is located. From our point of view, this is a perfect scenario for an intelligent system.”

The Microsoft Innovation Centre team, in close cooperation with the other collaborators, studied the project architecture and developed the application layer for both the mobile application that runs on Windows Phone 7 and the panel PC used at the hospital. Freescale developed the home health hub reference platform and the project architecture. Kontron developed the flat-panel PCs running Windows Embedded Standard 7, as well as the KISS Server running Windows Embedded Server. These devices meet regulatory requirements for healthcare settings to enable physicians and nurses to access information in a hospital or other care facility.

Freescale’s systems and applications team located in Toulouse, France, developed the reference platform, the hardware design and layout, middleware and management components, the HealthVault client integration, and the remote user interface. The reference platform collects data coming from different medical devices and conveys information to and from the HealthVault medical cloud server.

“There is no clear direction for remote patient technologies in terms of connectivity options or protocols,” says Steven Dean, global healthcare segment lead, Freescale. “What Freescale has been able to do is to provide our medical OEMs and design house partners with a reference design platform that I call the ‘kitchen sink of connectivity.’”

The solution offers an extensive range of connectivity options on the front and back ends, reflecting the fact that the medical systems market is currently fragmented. Regulatory requirements for medical devices, which also vary by country, impose an additional set of demands for devices that cannot be met by more familiar consumer products.

The proof of concept shows how the reference platform connects data from specialized medical devices and home health devices with medical data systems to enable patients and caregivers to make more informed healthcare decisions. Patients can connect with a doctor without the hassle of scheduling appointments and traveling to a hospital or clinic; automated reporting helps ensure accuracy and makes it easier to identify and address medical problems before they become more severe.