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IBM Launches Software to Help Identify and Manage Medical Challenges

IBM Haifa Labs News Center

March 02, 2005

IBM recently announced the availability of software, shaped by the input of Federal agencies and private hospitals, that enables adopters to exchange clinical data. This exchange and sharing of data is vital during a medical crisis, such as an influenza outbreak or the spread of tainted or problematic food and medicines, and enables researchers to track long-term health problems, such as those related to diabetes or asthma.

Known as WebSphere Business Integration for Healthcare Collaborative Network, or HCN, the new software helps public and private healthcare-related organizations create and tap into electronic networks that provide alerts for unusual medical patterns or crises; identify the geographic and biological origins and spread of those problems; research possible solutions; and allocate problem-solving resources. Presently available only in the US, the software can also enable caregivers and government agencies to share medical methodologies that work best for improving patient care.

Researchers at the IBM Haifa Labs played an important role in the development of HCN, providing such capabilities as de-identification and document construction. De-identification is a technology that enhances privacy issues, enabling health professionals to exchange and compare medical data without divulging the personal data of patients. The Haifa-developed document constructor allows hospitals and research centers to aggregate patient data into standard HL7 Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) documents, which can then be quickly and automatically analyzed.

HCN is also part of IBM's Clinical Genomics solution. Haifa researchers also played a major role in the development of this technology, which allows research institutions and biopharmaceutical companies across the world to integrate, store, analyze and better understand genotypic and phenotypic data for medical research and patient care.

The Clinical Genomics solution enables cross-referencing of clinical information-such as patient records, family histories and lab tests-with knowledge about the human genome. By understanding illnesses on the molecular level, including gene variations linked to disease or drug response, doctors may be able to make more precise diagnoses and tailor treatment decisions. Similarly, drug makers can work to develop more targeted treatment therapies and identify potential clinical trial participants more effectively.

Simona Cohen, a researcher at the IBM Haifa Labs and the Haifa project leader for Clinical Genomics, said that enabling Clinical Genomics correlations may impact individual's health in the future.

"HCN and Clinical Genomics enable advanced information-based medicine and better diagnostics," said Cohen. "Once anonymized detailed medical data flows freely on the HCN network, physicians will be able to diagnose and treat patients according to their genetic profile, and pharmaceutical companies will be able to develop more targeted medications."

Several American medical centers have tested and validated this electronic infrastructure, as have major healthcare agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control. The Canadian government has purchased HCN to provide an early warning and response system for biological threats.

IBM's new WebSphere Business Integration for Healthcare Collaborative Network software supports a variety of computer standards, so that clinical information can flow regardless of the underlying computer systems and application programs used internally by each institution housing clinical data. Few software products enable so many diverse healthcare computer systems to work with one another. Few vendors also offer such software along with the deep industry knowledge of experts, such as those at IBM's Business Consulting Services, who can implement and customize the technology for customers with great sensitivity and insight paid to the particulars of requirements unique to the healthcare industry and government regulatory agencies.

"With all the sophisticated technology found in a modern hospital, the lack of coordination among hospital systems and with monitoring agencies seems almost primitive," noted Dr. Herbert Pardes, the president and CEO of New York-Presbyterian Hospital. "A seamless, integrated network of information could do as much to protect patient safety and improve patient care as many other medical breakthroughs."

About Healthcare Collaborative Network
WebSphere Business Integration for Healthcare Collaborative Network is a new software component of IBM's Aligned Clinical Environment for the Healthcare Industry, a solution offered to healthcare provider organizations for integrating disparate data for key clinical and research constituents. The solution helps customers improve information integration, analysis, and value by providing actionable data to key stakeholders from a system, community, enterprise or single site perspective. Faster return on investment is achieved by implementing business projects with a broad choice of applications from IBM Business Partners, combined with IBM expertise and software assets. The unique capabilities of IBM and IBM Partners are enabling clients to swiftly deploy projects that are delivering the business value and flexibility required to achieve sustained growth.

For more information on the IBM WebSphere Business Integration for Healthcare Collaborative Network please visit:

About IBM
IBM is the world's largest information technology company, with 80 years of leadership in helping businesses innovate. IBM Software offers a wide range of middleware and operating systems for all types of computing platforms, allowing customers to take full advantage of the on demand era.

The fastest way to get more information about IBM software is through the IBM Software home page at

IBM, DB2, Lotus, Rational, Tivoli, and WebSphere are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation. All other company product or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others.

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