IBM Powers PremierConnect Collaboration Platform for Doctors

IBM hardware and software enable health care professionals to collaborate on diagnoses, supply chain contracts and drug administration in Premier's new PremierConnect virtual community.

IBM will provide the technology backbone for a new virtual community from Premier, a health care performance-improvement alliance of 2,500 hospitals and 84,000 other health care facilities.

PremierConnect, the new platform the alliance launched on June 7, allows doctors to collaborate and share insight on data and strategies for treating patients.

Hospitals, physician offices and outpatient clinics will share data using the platform. About 200 hospitals and health systems own the Premier alliance.

Of health care CEOs interviewed for a recent IBM study, 64 percent indicated they would like to collaborate with other health care organizations to be more effective, according to the IT vendor.

PremierConnect incorporates IBM's Cognos business-intelligence software, social-networking platform IBM Connections and IBM Sametime, which allows Premier alliance members to collaborate using enterprise instant-messaging, video conferencing and document collaboration.

Premier's new virtual community also uses IBM's Rational development tools as well as Tivoli service-management software and Websphere application-infrastructure software.

"The entire platform is built on IBM hardware and software, from the servers and storage that underpin the system, all the way to the business intelligence, social business and collaboration tools that face the user," Sean Cassidy, director of IBM health care information management, told eWEEK in an email.

As the Supreme Court prepares to rule on the constitutionality of the Obama administration's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which states that doctors can be eligible for incentives if they collaborate in accountable care organizations (ACOs) over the life of a patient, platforms such as PremierConnect make this collaboration possible.

"This [collaboration] has been a missing link in care delivery," Keith J. Figlioli, senior vice president of health care informatics for Premier, told eWEEK in an email.
"At the local level, care will be connected across all sites€”hospitals, physician offices, outpatient clinics€”and providers will know which patients are driving undesirable outcomes, which physicians have the highest costs or the poorest performance, and why these scenarios are occurring," said Figlioli.

PremierConnect's purpose is to allow Premier members to collaborate, said Cassidy.

"It enables them to create online communities, curate information, search content and create discussion forums," he said.

More than 100,000 clinicians, supply chain leaders, hospital executives and other health care providers in the United States will communicate using the platform, according to Premier.

Health care supply chain managers can use PremierConnect to get pricing for products they're considering making a contract on.

The platform also offers real-time surveillance to allow doctors to be alerted to events happening in a patients' environment that may cause infections. Doctors can also coordinate with pharmacies on administering drugs.

In addition, physicians or chief medical officers can use PremierConnect to spot variations in the way a medical practice operates.

PremierConnect has organized patient data from 325 provider organizations based on diagnoses, procedures and patient visits. The alliance will populate the platform with data from its clinical, financial and operation-comparison databases and update the data every 30 days, said Figlioli.

By doctors communicating using PremierConnect, they'll be able to avoid performing duplicate procedures, which is a threat to patient safety and increases health care costs, according to Figlioli.