Mount Sinai’s new technology centre applies tomorrow’s technology today

Mount Sinai’s new Informatics Technovision Unit (ITU) is enabling the Hospital to apply tomorrow’s technology, today. Opened in the summer of 2004, the ITU has a vision and a mandate to partner technology sector leaders with health care professionals in order to develop creative and practical solutions to challenges in health care delivery.

The ITU provides a live-testing environment for Mount Sinai technicians and ITU technology partners to identify and test information and communication technology (ICT) solutions that support the Hospital’s clinical, academic, and research activities. This access to a real-time testing lab reduces the number of conflicts and delays encountered when a new solution is integrated with existing systems.

This spirit of collaboration and partnership fostered by the ITU model incubates ideas that were once only theoretical possibilities. Now, they can actively be tested and tailored to meet the needs of health practitioners at Mount Sinai, and around the world. The ITU initiative is made possible through the generosity of founding partners: Nortel, IBM, Cerner, Cisco, HP, Network Appliance, MDI, Tenet Computers, and Charon Systems.

“This unit brings Mount Sinai Hospital’s technical and clinical expertise to bear on the very latest technological innovations, and provides integrated access to test functionality and integration with existing solutions in a live health care environment,” said Dr. Lynn Nagle, the Hospital’s Senior Vice-President of Technology and Knowledge Management.

“Mount Sinai has a well-earned reputation as a leader in developing new techniques and applying new technologies,” continued Nagle. “The health care setting is one that truly stands to benefit from the possibilities now available to us through the latest generation of information and communication technology.”

The physician portal system pilot project is an example of how the ITU model is already paying dividends. Today, people and information are extremely mobile. Health care professionals often work from more than one location, and have difficulty accessing health information from facilities using different IT systems.

By partnering with software developer DataGlider Systems, staff at the ITU is designing a one-stop Web portal solution to integrate different information technology (IT) systems across health care facilities. Physicians and health care professionals will one day be able to access patient health information across health care facilities from anywhere in the world using a consistent user interface.Identifying software application solutions is only a part of the success of the ITU. The unit also offers the opportunity for synergies between competing service providers, as illustrated when Mount Sinai extended its network capability to include an Internet Protocol (IP)-based wireless infrastructure.

“Both Nortel and Cisco offered competing components to the process, and with the help of Mount Sinai’s long-time telecom partner TELUS Business Solutions, the ITU tackled something that had never been done before: integrating two proprietary technologies into one seamless system,” said Steve Noyes, Director of Information and Communications Technology. “Without the unique structure of the ITU, this would never have been possible.”

The end result is a sophisticated IP-based communications infrastructure converging both voice and data traffic onto one network. This will seamlessly connect the Hospital’s three physical sites and offer support for wireless Voice-over-IP (VoIP)-telephony over the Internet- mobile carts, tablets and personal digital assistants. No matter where clinicians are in the Hospital, they will have easy access to medical information.

“With two different IT technologies on one network, we are no longer vendor dependant. This gives us the flexibility to adapt to changes in technology by working with our partners to get cutting-edge solutions into the hands of health care practitioners sooner,” said Noyes.

Partners like Nortel’s Mark Inkster, Director, Corporate Accounts, are committed to the continuing success of the ITU. “We have a long relationship with the ITU regarding beta testing of new products and services, and look forward to the continued opportunity to develop health specific applications in conjunction with the ITU and Nortel’s Advanced Technologies Group,” said Inkster.

The next phase for the ITU will be the creation of an eLearning Centre made possible by a generous investment from TELUS. The TELUS eLearning Centre will focus on the provision of technical and clinical training to MSH constituents as well as academic and community outreach.