The Healthcare Technology Winners of 2017

By Kenneth Bender, Ryan Black, and Jack Murtha
DECEMBER 25, 2017


It’s been a big year in healthcare technology. Healthcare Analytics News reached out to experts across our 8 coverage areas to determine which companies, people, and projects made the biggest waves. The winners of 2017 ushered in advances that have turned heads, resulted in measurable improvements, and given reason to believe that this high-speed sector is not built on hype alone.

Big Data: Montefiore Medical Center

Numbers can save lives. The traditional relational database in place at Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in Bronx, New York, has been dredged out and filled in with the center’s innovative semantic data lake project, to plumb the depths of predictive analytics.

Parsa Mirhaji, MD, PhD, associate professor of systems and computational biology and the director of clinical research informatics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Harold and Muriel Block–Institute for Clinical Translational Research, described the new approach to HCA. “This is a collaboration between Montefiore, Intel AI, and healthcare groups to purpose-build scalable data management platforms for AI [artificial intelligence] in healthcare,” he said. “The data lake—big data technology—is being built from the ground up using AI to support AI in healthcare at scale.”

Semantic Data Lake uses deep learning and machine learning to move from prediction to the prevention of hospital conditions like sepsis and respiratory failure, Mirhaji explained. The technology can help target interventions to ward off heart failure and spinal cord compression, he added.

The first pilot project to use the new data architecture for  automated predictive and preventive approaches was conducted in 2017. That effort identified high-risk patients in need of critical, time-sensitive intervention. Automated assessment of the continuous monitoring of patients on prolonged ventilation alerted clinicians to those patients with a 70% or greater likelihood of suffering an adverse ventilation event, and it did so 48 hours before a fatal episode or respiratory failure.

Mirhaji said the new capacity for accessing and deriving actionable information from vast amounts of data will not only expedite monitoring and treating patients but also facilitate the logistics of providing care in complex healthcare settings. These areas include, he said, “optimizing appointments and [emergency department] utilization, malpractice, clinical errors, and a wide spectrum of financial system optimizations.”

Cybersecurity: Scripps Health and Risk Manager Scot Copeland

The medical information technology (IT) network at Scripps Health, in San Diego, California, has hardened security around its networked medical devices through collaborative solutions facilitated by the network risk manager, Scot Copeland. The scale of the challenge is daunting: With 10 to 15 networked medical devices such as physiologic monitors and infusion pumps per bed, a typical 500-bed hospital could have 7500 linked devices.

In June 2017, a month after the global WannaCry ransomware attack, Copeland addressed the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation’s annual conference, describing the need to foster teamwork between IT and information security, in addition to the importance of eliciting business associate  agreements with vendors, developing computerized maintenance management software for asset tracking, and establishing access control policies.

In his presentation, Copeland emphasized the importance of  establishing relationships between medical device managers and IT. “They own the network, and a lot of the things that we need to do to manage the security of our medical devices has to be done  by them,” he said.

At Scripps Health, Copeland has ensured that IT knows the networked, electronic, protected health-information capabilities of the medical devices. His department involves IT in the due diligence and technical reviews on new medical equipment and systems for vulnerability, privacy issues, and other risks—including work with the Center for Medical Interoperability in an ongoing assessment of the capabilities of Scripps Health to implement the voluntary consensus 80001-X standards.

David Jamison, executive director, Health Devices Group, ECRI Institute, told HCA that Scripps is renowned for its cybersecurity efforts, sharing his experiences in the trenches. “Scripps Health has promoted the inclusion of clinical engineering in dealing with medical device cybersecurity, and they have been pioneers of early adoption of the IEC 80001 standards,” Jamison said.

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