Partners HealthCare, Persistent Systems enter four-year deal on clinical decision support

By Jonah Comstock

Boston's Partners HealthCare has entered into a four-year partnership deal with Persistent Systems to build clinical decision support systems for various departments throughout the hospital. The two groups will work together to develop an open sourced platform based on SMART and FHIR.

"Making innovative clinical tools available to our physicians at Partners and across the country relies on strong collaborations between academia and industry,” Dr. Anne Klibanski, chief academic officer at Partners HealthCare, said in a statement. “The co-development of this platform should yield a new tool that integrates applications directly into the clinical workflow — ultimately improving patient care.” 

Rahul Patel, executive vice president of digital at Persistent, explained that in most parts of the hospital, clinical decisions are made by the doctor according to a set of rules. Persistent and Partners will work together to augment those rules, and the doctor's intuition, with a learning algorithm tapped into hospital datasets.

"What we have learned working with Partners is that cardiologists [for instance] can benefit a lot by having a much deeper knowledge of comparative information relating to similar type of patient or a similar type of treatment that has been applied to the patient, and based on that kind of information a cardiologist can make a much better decision," Patel said.

One thing that makes this partnership interesting is how longterm and broad-reaching it is. Rather than doing a brief pilot, the two companies are committing up front to at least a four-year relationship.

"Essentially a platform will really be measured only after creating dozens of apps that will be delivered on that platform," Patel said. "Therefore it is not a one-time idea we are trying to bring out and decide [if it works for Partners], the kind of scenario that is typical with a pilot. We think with the ecosystem we are creating, it will require longterm commitment from both sides to continue to measure."

By creating an open-source platform, Persistent and Partners can avoid problems hospitals sometimes have implementing and scaling pilots.

"For each of these problems, if you were to put together a data platform to really do this analysis it’s very time intensive and very expensive for an IT department to solve," Patel said. "So the idea of the platform is critical to be able to provide many of these use cases from the same system. That’s why we are choosing this starting point where we are providing immediate value to a specific department and a specific set of patients, but the idea is a different problem that needs to be solved [later on] will be able to leverage the data that’s been brought together."