Every day, doctors and clinicians pursue innovations to improve patient care. These ideas often involve mining patient data to determine the best course of treatment or to proactively avoid symptoms and negative reactions altogether. However, these clinicians often find that this data is siloed across systems, which prevents them from easily accessing this information during treatment.

A new Partners HealthCare initiative is working to change that. With the help of Persistent Systems, we're building an open source Health Innovation Platform that will create the interoperable "backbone" needed for apps to integrate with systems across clinical workflows to enable much more sophisticated forms of clinical decision support functionality.

What kind of functionality could be unleashed with this new infrastructure? Take the example of a bone marrow transplant patient who needs a platelet transfusion. A donor must be found—and while all of the data needed to find a donor match and reduce the chance of rejection exists within the hospital network, it's decentralized into several unique systems. An app developed by Partners and Persistent Systems on the new platform links those systems and displays the information needed to make the best match. What's more, the app will be "open sourced" on the platform so that other institutions can access and adapt it for their own use.

With another application under development on the platform, patient genetic information can be combined with other clinical data to help clinicians understand the implications of those variants—not only for the patient themselves, but also for their family members. We have to seize these opportunities for clinical innovation, explains Sandy Aronson, executive director of IT at Partners HealthCare Personalized Medicine.

"We've really reached this point where there's this juxtaposition of different factors coming together, from increasing cost pressure within the health care environment, to new forms of data gathered from wearable devices, to better access to existing forms of data through broader EHR deployments coming on line, and machine learning coming into play. Both the impetus and the capacity for radical improvements are coming together," Aronson said.

Find more on the Partners Health Innovation Platform project here.

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