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Financial Post – A joint venture with SAP: Data sharing opens up a bold new future for health care

February 27, 2014

Special to Financial Post

After just two years in the marketplace, PHEMI Health Systems is changing the way hospitals treat chronic diseases. Using big data technology, PHEMI is helping to improve patient outcomes, increase staff productivity, and lower costs, says Adam Lorant, PHEMI’s vice-president of marketing.

With technology partner SAP Canada, Vancouver-based PHEMI has worked to resolve the privacy and performance issues that have been stumbling blocks for data sharing across health care systems.

Because the sector carefully guards patient data, large hospitals can have 200 or more patient information systems that don’t talk to one another. This presents a challenge for medical professionals seeking comprehensive patient information, says Lorant. “PHEMI has gone through a rigorous privacy and security validation so that doctors and nurses can now have Internet-like search capability across these systems and access to all the information they need, when they need it – at the point of care. Having consolidated access to everything from genomics and consult letters to ECG’s and X-rays is something that was previously out of reach for the health care sector.”

PHEMI gathers data from the fragmented hospital systems, which is then read, analyzed, indexed and securely stored. Because it is indexed, medical professionals can question the system in the same way a search engine is used. “They now have immediate access to specific information such as patients with conditions X and Y, but not Z,” says Lorant. “This is groundbreaking and tremendously valuable for researchers and others looking to improve outcomes.”

Performance gains come from the integration of SAP’s in-memory database, SAP HANA, which runs applications 100 times faster than conventional systems and allows data to be analyzed in near real-time. “Speeding up the computing process means doctors and nurses spend less time in front of a computer and more time with patients resulting in out-patient clinic productivity improvements of more than 30%,” Lorant says.

The PHEMI/SAP system is providing the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS the means to speed up and personalize the treatment of its patients. “The DNA sequence of the virus from an individual is added to the PHEMI system and compared to millions of other sequences to determine the specific HIV strain. Based on the results, a drug protocol can be personalized for that individual,” explains Lorant. “We’re dealing with massive amounts of data with one sequence representing as much as 200 gigabytes of data.”

“Our partnership with PHEMI has fundamentally changed how Canada’s health care system works, and how we are all treated and cared for as patients,” says Bob Elliott, managing director, SAP Canada. “Earlier this year, Deloitte predicted that technology will reduce patient wait times and decrease the cost of health care by shifting the focus to early intervention and this is exactly what we are doing. Our work with the Centre for Excellence is a great proof point that forward thinking Canadian companies, taking bold actions, can lead the world in their industries.”

This content was developed by Postmedia’s advertising department in collaboration with a client for commercial purposes.