Case Study

Healthcare team adds a digital member  

The Challenge

Maine Medical Center, which is part of the MaineHealth network, houses one of the state’s only cardiothoracic intensive care units where patients recover following heart, lung, and other types of chest surgery. Monitoring devices already collect health data on these patients—vital signs, oxygen levels, electronic medical records—but caregivers also need new, more efficient ways to analyze and visualize this data in order to predict negative health outcomes, intervene earlier, and save lives.

Medicine is increasingly becoming a computational discipline. The algorithm is becoming a valued member of the healthcare team.

Rai Winslow

Director of Life Science and Medicine Research

The Roux Institute

The Partnership

MaineHealth’s chief academic officer, Doug Sawyer, and Maine Medical Center’s director of cardiothoracic research, Bob Kramer, partnered with the Roux Institute’s Rai Winslow, director of life science and medicine research, and Melanie Tory, director of data visualization research. Winslow is a world-renowned leader in computational medicine, an emerging discipline that he helped create, and Tory is an expert in human-data interaction. Computational medicine involves building computer models of human physiology to understand how disease develops and then using those models to design new diagnostics and treatments personalized to a patient’s needs. This approach, coupled with effective interfaces to convey the information to clinicians, helps clinicians deliver precise, individualized care to patients. For example, wearable technologies allow caregivers to monitor patients’ health on a more continuous basis at a hospital or clinic, or even when the patient is home. 

The Goal

MaineHealth and the Roux Institute want to show how real-time monitoring devices are more powerful when paired with predictive algorithms and visual tools to display patient data. The partnership begins with studying past patients and health outcomes in the cardiothoracic ICU and observing how the ICU currently monitors patients. This will, in turn, inform new strategies that help caregivers to determine how and when to intervene before a patient’s situation becomes critical. Tory’s team expects to develop a dashboard for nurses that displays Winslow’s real-time predictions about patient outcomes. 

This collaboration promises to change the way we manage patients recovering from surgery, giving care teams the ability to predict and prevent adverse events.

Doug Sawyer

Chief Academic Officer

MaineHealth

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