At the TEDMed conference in Washington, D.C, Xerox announced research efforts aimed at digitizing patient information and using natural-language technology to collect unstructured medical data and convert it into formats that can be read by computer applications.
Among the projects Xerox unveiled April 10 is the Digital Nurse Assistant from its Parc division. Parc is a unit of the company focused on innovation and research. This project involves combining mobile technology with hospital in-room displays to allow caregivers to access and document their work without a workstation.
The Digital Nurse Assistant incorporates contextual awareness to keep caregivers informed of patients' progress, according to Markus Fromherz, chief innovation officer for health care at Xerox.
It also provides the ability for nurses to coordinate tasks in their workflow, such as lifting and washing, as well as collaborating with doctors and physical therapists.
"This is a project where we actually use ethnography early on to shadow nurses in what they're doing," Fromherz told eWEEK.
In another research initiative, Xerox has introduced a new user interface for Midas + Live. The Midas software family delivers data analytics and case management for hospitals. Midas+Live is a cloud application that allows doctors to link their electronic health record (EHR) databases and monitor changes in patients' conditions, including vital signs such as temperature and blood pressure.
Midas+Live's new interface allows caregivers to track patients' vital data on smartphones and tablets and spot complications in their chronic conditions.
"When you consider that 75 percent of U.S. health care costs go to patients with chronic diseases, using analytics to get ahead of and manage these diseases should be a priority for every hospital," said Tom Simas, managing director for Midas+ solutions at Xerox, in a statement.
Midas+Live allows health care providers to extract data from documents such as EHRs, diagnostic systems and practice-management applications so they can integrate it into a single dashboard, said Fromherz.
The dashboard allows physicians to monitor patients on an entire floor of a hospital all in one view, said Fromherz. The software can apply clinical rules to specify which patients need attention, he explained.
Analytics capabilities in Midas+Live allow doctors to make predictions on patient conditions, Fromherz added.
Xerox launched Midas+Live when it acquired CredenceHealth on March 21, 2011.
Meanwhile, Xerox also released information on its Fact Spotter text-mining technology, which the company developed at its research center in Europe. FactSpotter's linguistic engine uses natural-language processing (NLP) technology similar to the type Nuance incorporates in IBM's Watson supercomputer. Xerox's NLP tool allows researchers to query a database using everyday language and enables Midas+Live to incorporate unstructured documents into EHR databases.
"We're expanding the scope of what type of information can be taken in from Midas Live from unstructured to structured information," said Fromherz.
Unstructured data could include dictated doctors' notes, such as physicians' diagnostic interpretations of X-ray and Magnetic Resonance images. "We're using natural-language technology to convert it into structured information," said Fromherz. NLP technology can also be used to extract information on event sequences, such as the effects of medication, he added.
In addition to its research projects, Xerox highlighted how its LiveKey service allows health care businesses to digitize information using the company's multifunction printers. Health care providers can scan documents and send the information through the cloud to a Xerox facility for coding and processing of claims.