IBM Analytics Software Is a Perfect Match for Marrow Donors

The National Marrow Donor Program is using IBM's Lombardi analytics software to help match marrow donors with patients in need.

IBM has announced that the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) is using IBM's analytics software to speed the processing time required to match information about potential donors with bone marrow transplant patients.

In an interview with eWEEK, Marie Wieck, IBM's general manager for WebSphere and middleware, said the NMDP is using IBM analytics software to streamline the record-matching process by automatically comparing millions of data records nationwide. These records include donor information, geographic location and patient-recipient data. The objective of the project is to speed up the period of time it takes for bone marrow transplants, which currently averages 96 days. Wieck said IBM's software is capable of cutting this period down to 45 days.

IBM provided the NMDP with its WebSphere Lombardi software package, which can simultaneously track donors, patients, and locations on one dashboard, making it easier for staff to facilitate a match. The project, being prototyped this fall, is set to launch in 2011, IBM said.

IBM's Lombardi software gives organizations the ability to quickly adjust their business processes to support sudden and changing needs-especially those that rely heavily on collaboration to complete a task or project. As a result, the NMDP is able to automate its screening processes, eliminating the need for complicated and time-consuming technical intervention, and allowing staff to focus on records that meet the matching criteria.

The NMDP estimates that as many as 10,000 patients can benefit from a transplant each year in the U.S. alone, while only four in 10 patients with life-threatening diseases receive the bone marrow they need to survive due to a range of factors, including wait time.

"Many of these patients need a transplant quickly to treat their life-threatening disease," said Jeffrey W. Chell, MD, CEO of the NMDP, in a statement. "We expect this new system to significantly reduce the time to transplant. This will help more patients get the transplant they need, when they need it."

"This breakthrough at NMDP is a prime example of how health analytics can be used to mine data in new ways and streamline processes," said Dan Pelino, general manager of IBM healthcare and life sciences, in a statement. "New approaches to analyzing patient data are advancing the state of medicine and influencing research. IBM has made a significant investment in analytics over the years and applied this expertise to healthcare with literally life-saving results."

A bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant can be used to treat patients with life-threatening blood, immune system or genetic disorders. The NMDP currently facilitates more than 5,000 transplants using unrelated donors or cord blood units each year. The NMDP operates the "Be The Match Registry" of more than eight million potential donors and more than 160,000 cord blood units. Through cooperative relationships with international registries, the organization provides access to a total of 14 million potential donors worldwide.