IBM Canada partners with HHS to launch health-care innovation hub

IBM Canada launches collaborative hub geared towards health care solutions.
IBM Canada launches collaborative hub geared towards health care solutions. Sara Cain, AM900 CHML

IBM Canada and Hamilton Health Sciences have launched a new collaborative space that they hope will help take innovative patient-centered solutions to the next level.

Located on King Street West, the Innovation Exchange Initiative will give projects like the Hamilton early warning score system (HEWS) an opportunity to improve and grow. HEWS is designed to predict a patient’s risk of a critical event during hospitalization.

Dr. Alison Fox-Robichaud says what has been developed to date is an electronic platform that generates a score based on a patient’s vital signs in order to assist the person administering care.

If the score is straying from where it should be, then action can be taken.

“It tells them what to do, it says, let your charge nurse know, do your vital signs more frequently, call the resident of the team or call the response team,” Fox-Robichaud said.

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READ MORE: Home visits by Hamilton paramedics aim to reduce 911 calls, hospital admissions

The result, she says, is care at the right time which mean less code blue events in hospitals.

Less situations where a person is going into cardiac or respiratory arrests.

Where the new accelerator comes in, Fox-Robichaud says, is in the fine-tuning of a mobile app developed through a company called Thoughtwire and IBM Canada.

The goal is to put critical patient information at a health-care practitioner’s fingertips.

“We’re going to start to build a program that works in the emergency department using this application and take it out to the paramedics as well.”

The challenge, at this point, is ensuring information privacy on the smartphones running the app as well as determining what will work best in the field.

Fox-Robichaud said her team will be leveraging the IBM Innovation Space and the company’s network to take this program a step further.

The goal she says is to eventually establish a warning system that can be distributed to other hospitals across the country.

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IBM Canada President, Dino Trevisani says that is what this space is all about, collaborations between health-care researchers and IBM specialists that are rooted in data-based solutions.

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He adds, it’s about moving faster, pointing to the use of IBM’s Watson cognitive and analytics software in oncology at Hamilton Health Sciences.

“Watson can go through all the scans and be able to tell you very instantly this looks like a cancerous growth or it doesn’t” he said.

The IBM Innovation Space in Hamilton joins a series of accelerators being opened up across the country by the tech giant but is the only one so far with a focus on health care.