Researchers at Columbia University will use IBM's InfoSphere Streams analytics software to detect complications from brain injuries.
Analytics software mathematically sifts data to spot trends and predict business outcomes. IBM is a major investor in this area, shelling out $11 billion in 19 acquisitions over the last five years.
Columbia researchers will use the analytics software to spot symptoms that the naked eye is unable to detect up to 48 hours earlier than today's techniques, IBM reports.
IBM announced the project with Columbia at the Information on Demand 2010 and Business Analytics Forum in Las Vegas on Oct. 26.
"Think about creating a machine that will monitor the patient extremely closely in a tireless way and looking for any change or problem continuously," Nagui Halim, director and research scientist for IBM Streaming Analytics, told eWEEK.
Between the software and the lab results, researchers will get "the full picture" on the patient's condition, Halim said.
The software could eventually detect heart attacks and minimize damage to the heart, according to Halim. Often by the time doctors detect brain injuries, it's too late.
"You can look at the relationship between different parameters, and these are the things you really need analytic tools to uncover because you can't just visualize this stuff in your head," J. Michael Schmidt, director of neuromonitoring and informatics for Columbia University Medical Center's Neurological Intensive Care Unit (NICU), told eWEEK.
"Every morning we're faced with over 200 variables," Schmidt continued. "The human brain can only process two variables at any one time. We really do need computational help to understand all the relatedness in our data."
InfoSphere allows researchers to process EEG feeds, blood oxygen levels, and blood pressure and temperature readings, according to IBM. The software data will be used along with lab test results and patient reports of symptoms to discover hidden patterns.
InfoSphere processes structured and unstructured streaming data sources, including voice and video and real-time feeds from the market, medical equipment and satellites.
Researchers believe they'll be able to spot complications from a stroke or brain aneurysm or conditions such as cerebral ischemia, in which the brain is starved of sufficient oxygenated blood. Researchers will search for hidden data in the test results of cerebral spasm patients or those suffering from cerebral ischemia, Schmidt told eWEEK.
After the software spots patterns, researchers will take data to a neurological intensive care unit to inform doctors of data patterns and combine them with medical data.
Other organizations using IBM's analytics software include the Mayo Clinic, Hertz, Shell Oil, the Memphis Police Department and Nevada's Clark County Family Services Department.