Ascribe decided to implement a hybrid-cloud solution based on Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise software and Windows Azure HDInsight Service running on the Windows Azure platform. Ascribe planned to take advantage of BI tools built into SQL Server 2012, as well as multiple other products and services.
The company chose Microsoft both for the capabilities of individual products and because it offered a streamlined, end-to-end solution that it could implement quickly and easily. “We were dealing with a complicated business process with lots of moving parts, all of which could be automated by a seamless Microsoft stack,” says Henderson. “We didn’t want to buy products from different vendors and try to make them work together. Microsoft figures that out for you.”
Ascribe began working on the proof of concept in November 2012 and completed the project six weeks later in mid-December. Leeds plans to run a pilot program with the new system in early 2013.
The company created an on-premises data mart with SQL Server 2012 running on the Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise operating system that included its own repository of clinical data and case files from Leeds Hospital. To protect patient privacy, Ascribe and Microsoft partner Two10Degrees, a company that specializes in Windows Azure technology, filtered the records to remove names and other identifying information before sending the data to the Windows Azure platform. The company set up a data mart on HDInsight Service that includes a natural-language processing engine created by Two10Degrees. HDInsight Service is a Microsoft Big Data offering that provides Apache-compatible Hadoop distribution. A platform designed to process large volumes of structured and unstructured data, HDInsight Service also integrates with Microsoft BI tools and information sources such as social media feeds.
Ascribe worked with Two10Degrees to map unstructured text to a clinical taxonomy. Next, Ascribe looked at patterns in the data to identify potential outbreaks of infectious disease as well as trends that are typically more difficult to analyze, such as alcohol-related visits to the emergency room and injuries from accidents in the home.
Ascribe also designed several applications that run on Windows 8 tablets, including a syndromic surveillance app. Active tiles on the Windows 8 desktop display real-time information. For example, users can look at the tile for the surveillance app and immediately see if the system has sent an alert about a disease outbreak.
Tapping on the tile launches a Microsoft Office SharePoint dashboard, which includes Power View, an interactive data visualization feature in SQL Server 2012. Clinicians can use the tool to quickly correlate multiple types of information, such as population density, family size, and the availability of local healthcare services.
In addition, the solution integrates with Bing Maps to show the geographic distribution of reported illnesses. Clinicians can touch the map to drill down to detailed information on each patient diagnosed.
If the clinician needs to collaborate with peers, the solution also incorporates Microsoft Lync technology for secure instant messaging and conference calls. The solution integrates with Microsoft Office 2013 as well, which provides multiple ways to share information through documents, spreadsheets, and email.
For local healthcare providers interested in improving efficiency, the company created cubes in SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services that aggregate data from clinical databases, case files, and social feeds. Working with Microsoft SQL Server 2012 PowerPivot for Excel, users can quickly analyze large data sets and predict trends such as an increase of alcohol-related accidents during the holiday season.
In addition to its surveillance app, the solution includes Ascribe Emergency Care software, a rich, clinical solution that helps clinicians deliver quality care services in the high-pressure accident and emergency environment.