Boston Children’s and IBM Team Up

Together they created a cloud-based program to share pediatric medical information around the world.

OPENPediatrics image provided.

OPENPediatrics image provided

When Dr. Jeffrey Burns, chief of critical care medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, received a phone call from a pediatrician in Guatemala who needed immediate advice regarding a young girl with a serious infection, he helped talk the physician through the treatment, and luckily, the patient survived. Dr. Burns then decided to figure out a way to open this type of critical care dialogue between physicians around the world.

IBM and Boston Children’s Hospital have teamed up to create the first cloud-based global education technology platform with the hopes of transforming how pediatric medicine is taught and practiced throughout the world. Developed at IBM Labs in Cambridge, OPENPediatrics trains medical professionals using an interactive experience, which will help equip them to perform life-saving procedures and treatments for children who would not otherwise have access to intensive care. The technology was developed by IBM and the content is supplied by experts and doctors at Boston Children’s and includes seminars from international expert clinicians.

The benefit of using a cloud-based system, particularly in under-developed nations, is that it takes away any need to build a global technology infrastructure. It’s cost-effective and highly efficient. According to a press release supplied by IBM, the company has invested more than $4 billion in software acquisitions and organic development to build out its global cloud portfolio.

“Nothing breaks down walls and brings people together like caring for a critically ill child,” Burns says. “With IBM’s technology and services arsenal and our critical care expertise, we partnered to bring our vision of stronger pediatric care to countries across the globe. In doing so, we’re extending the reach of medical education to help save children’s lives and laying the groundwork for the ‘digital hospital’ of the future.”

Early reports show that OPENPediatrics is already changing the course of treatment. According to a press release, a physician in Israel reported that OPENPediatrics video demonstrations helped him master a feeding tube procedure, to ensure adequate nutrition and hydration in critically ill children and at the Fundación Aldo Castañeda in Guatemala, physicians using OPENPediatrics learned new ways to avoid infections, resulting in a new infection prevention program. In its pilot phase, OPENPediatrics is being used by more than 1,000 doctors and nurses in 74 countries on six continents.

In a press release, Mike Rhodin, senior vice president of the Software Solutions Group at IBM says:

“Boston Children’s Hospital recognized a need to enable smarter medical decisions when children’s lives are at stake. Through the power of social networking and cloud technologies, IBM has been able to significantly advance the dissemination of knowledge around the world to help ensure better patient outcomes. OPENPediatrics is a perfect example of the transformative power of technology to help solve healthcare’s most pressing problems.”