Dartmouth-Hitchcock launches ImagineCare health solution

Sean Dudley
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley on 14 July 2015
Dartmouth-Hitchcock launches ImagineCare health solution

Based in New England, US, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System is piloting a highly coordinated, personalised solution that covers the physical, mental and emotional health of its patients.

The solution – ImagineCare – is built on Microsoft’s leading machine learning, big data storage and processing, and perceptual intelligence technology, including the new Cortana Analytics Suite, which has been unveiled at the 2015 WPC event in Orlando, Florida.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock has brought in a range of experts from a number of varied industries – including medicine, retail, entertainment, publishing and hospitality – to develop ImagineCare. The aim is to provide this technology to health organisations across the US and help change the way people interact with the healthcare system and the way citizens think about their health.

“What’s wrong with healthcare today is that people aren’t willing to think differently,” said Dr. Jim Weinstein, Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s CEO. “We imagined what could happen if we gathered the best and the brightest experts from all kinds of industries and allowed them to invent an entirely different way.”

Compared to the traditional patient-healthcare paradigm, ImagineCare has a greater focus on ‘customer service’.

“The current healthcare system asks a patient to come to us when it’s convenient for us,” said Dr. Ethan Berke, medical director for Clinical Design and Innovation at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. “We asked, ‘how can we meet a patient where they are? Instead of being a reactive health system, how can we become a proactive health system?’”

With ImagineCare, patients benefit from a cloud-based system that allows nurses and health coaches to track and respond to an individual’s health status in real time. 

Information from sensors and devices, including blood-pressure cuffs, pulse oximeter devices and activity trackers like Microsoft Band, gets transmitted via smartphone to the Azure cloud. This data is then pulled into a Cortana Analytics Suite dashboard at a ‘contact centre’ staffed 24/7 by registered nurses.

When a patient’s data exceeds their custom-prescribed threshold, an alert is sent to a nurse who can then contact the patient.

The patient also benefits from a specially-designed dashboard and receives reminders of when to take medicines or do exercise.

“Imagine you get a high blood-pressure reading,” said Nathan Larson, director of Remote Medical Sensing at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. “The nurse pops up within seconds, welcomes you by name, and helps you understand what it means, and what you might need to do next. It amazes people. This level of proactive personal care and customer service really blows the clinical world away. It really feels like someone’s got your back.”

Not only does ImagineCare track physical health, but is beginning to break into previously uncharted territory by being able to monitor mental and emotional health.

Using the Cortana Analytics Suite, the system monitors a patient’s social media feeds and performs a sentient analysis, looking for problematic trends. The Suite can also perform speech and tone analysis during interactions with ImagineCare nurses, and a mobile app encourages ‘mood check-ins’, helping staff catch and treat illnesses such as depression. 

“We’re truly looking at the whole health of the individual,” says Larson. “It’s a completely new way to deliver care.”

A personal care plan for each patient is continually updated in the secure ImagineCare system.

“Imagine if you had a system that is looking at each person’s data — hundreds of data points over time,” said Dr. Robert Greene, executive vice president and chief population health management officer at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. “Now imagine that we have 10,000 patients. Machine learning gives us an opportunity to continuously improve our care plans based on a deep understanding of all that data, so that when patient number 10,001 comes along, we can do exactly what’s best for them.”

Thanks to Microsoft’s technology, Dartmouth-Hitchcock is able to provide patients with customised and accurate care plans that are helping to change lives.

“It’s a seamless technology solution,” said Larson. “That’s what makes ImagineCare possible — Cortana Analytics Suite, Dynamics CRM and Azure enabling big-data integration, predictive analytics and machine learning on a seamless cloud-based platform. It’s allowing us to make a big difference in people’s lives. It’s exciting to be a part of it.”

An added benefit is saved costs, as thanks to the solution, unnecessary emergency room visits, primary care visits and hospital admissions and readmissions can be avoided. 

The ImagineCare solution will be rolled out to 6,000 patients this October, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock is already lining up health organisations across the US who could also benefit from the technology.

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