Newswise — Analytical Informatics, Inc., a company aiming to revolutionize data management in health care, is the latest spinoff company from the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), says Phil Robilotto, DO, MBA, assistant vice president for technology transfer.
He announced the launch at the recent “UM Ventures Symposium on Entrepreneurship,” held at the University of Maryland BioPark.
“We are very excited about Analytical Informatics’ potential, not just as a near term radiology solutions tool, but also for its broader applications for enhancing access to clinical information.” says Robilotto. “The company also represents a trend of more software-based inventions that our office has been receiving over the past several months,” he said.
Company CEO and co-founder Christopher Meenan says as “cool” software tools become available from the company, they will give physicians, quality leaders, and other clinicians real-time access to vital clinical information across a multitude of systems to help them improve clinical quality and efficiency.
When he came to the health care profession several years ago, Meenan was struck by the “many different islands” of information that can be isolated in health care organizations. “In many hospitals, the lab system [of data management) is different from the radiology information system is different from the surgery information system, and so on. Those systems don’t easily share data back and forth,” he says. “One of the goals of our new tools is that we give the physicians and other clinicians the capability to access data from across disparate systems. That provides a more global view of what’s happening and can surely help them take better care of patients”
Meenan is a research associate and director of clinical informatics and for the Department
of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center, also in Baltimore. Meenan joined the department in 2003 and with his team built a number of software tools to help radiologists and administrators get a better look at different kinds of information, including quality ‘dashboards,’ peer review, modality utilization, and more. (Modality utilization is a tool to help administrators and technologists optimize the scheduling and use of imaging modalities such as CT and MRI devices.)
He said he noticed that, “Radiologists are often pretty geeky, and have great ideas on how to use technology to improve patient care. With so many great ideas and our love of creating great software, we had a perfect match. After hearing feedback from other universities about their new tools, Meenan decided to form a startup.
According to UMB’s Nancy Cowger, PhD, senior technology licensing officer, “This team of software creators work together every day to devise new solutions to help the department operate smoothly and effectively for staff and patients alike. For example, the team created a new program that allows staff to view in a graphical format the operational details for each of the department’s busy CT and MRI scanners for ease of interpretation and improved communication among the staff.”
She said the team, of Meenan, Mark Daly, and Christopher Toland of the University of Maryland Medical System, and Max Warnock of University Physicians, Inc., “see a great need at other hospitals for their innovative software solutions.”
Meenan explains, “For many healthcare organizations today, simply getting access to operational data to improve departmental quality or efficiency can be a challenge. At best, it’s often an exercise in batch reporting. Once you’ve run a static report however, it’s difficult to ask new questions or discover new patterns in the data. To make access to data more efficient and timely, we have built an open platform that aggregates data from all kinds of clinical information sources” he says. “We build applications that reside on top of that platform that can actively display real-time data from hospital information systems and allow clinical users to interact with and discover that data to see what’s really happening in their departments,” says Meenan.
Meenan says, “I really believe in the promise that better information technology can play a big role in improving the delivery of health care. It’s very expensive for organizations to do systems integrations today, and Clinical IT teams are inundated with requests for new projects and more information. We think our tools can go a long way to improving care by providing an easy way for caregivers to get direct access to the information they need to meet their own quality initiatives.”
Another data trouble area in hospitals is in keeping contact data bases accurate. Such is yet another opportunity for “cool” software tools from Analytical Informatics, says Meenan. “Over the past couple of years we have built glue-like systems so that we can help doctors access data across systems and provide better information on contacts.”
Overall, Analytical Informatics, Inc. provides a significant step to supporting and joining many information “silos” existing in health care, says Meenan. Features of the company’s platform include real-time data acquisition and incorporation into a single data model, rapid development of applications to respond to customer requests, unified service tools for centralized maintenance, user management, HIPAA audit logging, etc., and a robust software development kit so that others can build applications on the platform as well. The applications work on any browser, provide the ability to hover over data points to see details on demand, allow users the ability to drill down into data visualization models, and contain integrated blogging and RSS feeds, which are a family of web update formats known as Really Simple Syndication.
UM Ventures, the organizer of the symposium, is a joint effort among the technology transfer offices at each campus and entrepreneurial business services programs at Baltimore and College Park.