Sean Nolan over at the HealthVault/Family Health Guy site took some time out to explain how the H1N1 tool was put together for use on the internet in conjunction with Emory University. It brought together 3 of Microsoft's existing technologies to make this work. We have a cloud, Azure, a PHR HealthVault and Amalga that aggregates and does the computing. I did a quick post with the Microsoft Tag below if you want to use the tool on your phone too. Tags and PHRs are coming together real soon too.
Back on topic here, the key was to work with technologies that integrate with each other to make the online tool possible. When there is a time of emergency you can put the folks together with the data brains and quickly have an item as such to be useful and easy to use for everyone, just don’t catch H1N1 now is the key. Sean also used my favorite word on this blog too in his explanation, algorithm. It all comes back to the algos for information, even the H1N1 tool.
I just posted a portion of his article below that covers the basics but for more details visit his blog and you can get some additional details. He also promised more information down the road with Amalga, and back in April Microsoft announced Amalga Life Sciences. This is the business intelligence end of the project, the work horse. You may have read posts here on the blog too how Amalga is utilized to aggregate data from various hospitals and allow for sharing of patient information. That is only one phase of the entire project, there’s more, especially when you delve into the Life Sciences part of the scheme. The Life Sciences group creates custom solutions for big corporations and sometimes plays in the sandbox with software other than created from Microsoft. I covered some of this and learned a bit myself when I spoke with Mike Naimoli, US Director of Microsoft Life Sciences and Amalga is right up there in their toolbox too.
There’s a lot of Genomics research capabilities too with Amalga such as what is being done at El Camino hospital. Ok I have said enough here and left out all the really techie stuff like “parsing” and a few other items that Sean describes in detail at his post. BD
From the Family Guy:
“People ask me a lot why I came back to Microsoft after being away for so long. The answer is pretty simple: I don't believe there is anybody in the world better positioned to make a real difference in the world of healthcare technology. And that's about more than just a dollar commitment. Microsoft has the right DNA, breadth, patience and audacity to create a portfolio of products that span the entire industry - so we can deliver real end-to-end solutions.
Once you've got that "palette" of tools to work with (and it's taken awhile for us to get to the point where the maturity is there to really leverage them), you can do amazing things really quickly. That's when things get truly awesome.
Recently we had the opportunity to demonstrate how this can work by playing a small but real part in the national effort to help deal with the H1N1 virus that seems poised to be a real challenge for our public health system.
Researchers at Emory University have been working for some time on an algorithm called SORT that is intended to help people self-triage when they are worried about flu symptoms. In creator Dr. Arthur Kellermann's words:
By providing an at-home tool that can help users evaluate whether they need to see a provider before they head to the hospital, we can encourage those who are severely ill or at risk for serious illness to contact their doctor, and reassure everyone else that it is safe and prudent to recover at home. This will reduce the number of people needlessly exposed to H1N1 influenza in crowded clinic and ER waiting rooms, and allow doctors and nurses to focus their attention on those who need them most.
Microsoft has partnered with Emory to make this self-assessment tool as widely-available as possible by launching the H1N1 Response Center. I'm not going to rewrite the press release on the Response Center here; instead I'm going to talk about all the pieces that came together to make it happen.
The Response Center has three parts to it; each serving a different purpose:
- The Self-Assessment website. The anonymous survey is hosted on our cloud-based computing platform Azure. While the site itself is relatively simple, running it on Azure provides us virtually unmatched scalability - so the site will stay available even if it experiences heavy "burst" traffic due to specific news events or other spikes.
- For individuals who decide to go to a provider for care, they can use our simple "prepare for visit" HealthVault application to ensure that they have all the information available to receive the care they need. Using this free application also helps populate a personal health record that can be used on a go-forward basis to help coordinate care using a wide variety of personal health tools and services.
- On an opt-in and optional basis, we invite people to submit the results of their assessments for use in public health research and surveillance. This information is sent through an Azure Queue to a hosted instance of the Amalga 2009 Unified Intelligence System and the aggregate information is made available on a real-time basis to qualified organizations. That's worth saying twice - the information is made available on a real-time basis - and visualized in the Amalga UIS client application that allows rich analysis as well as integration with other tools. [Note: if you are a researcher who would benefit from access to this information, please contact me using the form on this blog or by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org]”