Dell, University at Buffalo to Form Medical Informatics Institute

IT giant Dell will partner with the University at Buffalo to form the Institute for Healthcare Informatics to ease the sharing of medical data among researchers and medical professionals.

Dell will contribute $15 million in computer equipment and services to help launch an Institute for Healthcare Informatics at the University at Buffalo.

Health care informatics involves using IT to study and share patient information among health care professionals and across medical institutions. The practice can lead to better patient outcomes and reduced medical costs, according to UB.

Founded in 1846, UB is a flagship school in the SUNY (State University of New York) system.

"In partnership with Dell, the goal is for the UB Institute for Healthcare Informatics to become a national center for health care data and interpretation of data," Dr. Russell Bessette, the institute's executive director, wrote in an e-mail to eWEEK. "This will create new opportunities to grow the city of Buffalo's biotech industry, create more opportunities for the university to partner with private business and lead to new state and federal research projects focused on health care informatics."

Dell chose to work with UB because of its research on the relationship of blood chemistry and illness, according to Bessette. "Our method is exciting because it provides an objective way for health care practitioners to measure illness, the severity of illness and the costs associated with health care treatments," he wrote. "Current methods do not allow for such specific measurements, and so it's difficult to analyze patient health, treatment and appropriate costs."

The institute will be housed in a 15,000-square-foot space on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC). Dell will contribute high-powered PCs to the facility.

Sharing medical data will be a key goal of the institute, and the school will be a focal point for medical informatics within the SUNY system, according to UB.

"Most important, heath care practitioners can use this data to track what treatments work best for patients, and this will improve patient outcomes and reduce costs," Bessette wrote.

Staff at the center will include personnel from UB, Dell, Buffalo-based technology company CTG and UB Associates, the university's management-service organization. They'll support the work of 450 physicians in the UBMD medical practice plans, according to Dell and UB. The institute will develop data analysis software to help bring better treatment outcomes for patients. Applications will also include medical records management.

"With the generous support of Michael Dell, the UB Institute for Healthcare Informatics will put UB and SUNY on the map as pioneers of informatics education," SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said in a statement.

Eventually, doctors, nurses and pharmacists across the country will be able to share the medical data for analysis purposes.

Dell has a history of collaborating with UB. It installed high-performance computing clusters in UB's Center for Computational Research in 2002, doubling the university's computing capacity for research.

Dell CEO Michael Dell and UB announced their partnership in Buffalo on Sept. 23. Although Dell may collaborate with other universities in the future, the company will focus on UB for now, according to Colleen Ryan, a Dell spokesperson. "This is where we want to invest our efforts right now and make sure it really goes well with our partners at the University at Buffalo," Ryan told eWEEK.

As part of Dell's health care IT efforts, it recently announced that its Android Streak tablet will integrate with the company's EMR (electronic medical records) and Mobile Clinical Computing offerings.