High-tech help for brain trauma patients

A unique e-health research system is being successfully tested in an intensive care unit on the Caribbean island of Martinique. Developed with support from EU funds, it calls on sophisticated information technology (IT) to improve the quality of care for brain-injured patients.

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CHU de Fort de France CHU de Fort de France

“The Isis system enables computer experts and doctors to work together on improving the care of severe brain trauma patients.”
Dr Mehdaoui, head of critical care unit, CHU, Martinique

The system stems from the ‘Isis’ programme at the Fort-de-France university hospital (CHU). Comprised of several communicating modules, it monitors up to 40 different parameters in cerebral trauma patients. Data collected is processed and turned into guidelines that support the unit’s medical staff.

Linked modules

The CHU’s intensive care unit accommodates up to 15 patients. At any one time, several of them will be receiving care for severe brain injuries – which require round-the-clock surveillance.

The Isis system was developed under a research programme that began in 2004. Its partners include the CHU, the biomathematics laboratory of the Université de Lille2 in France, Martinique county, and the EU. The goal was to produce a new IT system capable of contributing to patient care improvement, calling on brain injury as a model.

IT has been used in the medical field for several decades, especially for digital imaging. But its modern offshoots such as ‘telehealth’ (the delivery of health advice and/or services using electronic communication) and ‘e-health’ (calling on IT tools in healthcare) have rarely been used in intensive care units. These can improve patient care by capturing real-time data that enable medical practitioners to improve the diagnosis of problems and/or devise specific therapies.

Isis is a dedicated bedside system, with various different modules that can communicate with one another. It has high-capacity data storage infrastructure, a 96-processor computer able to process up to 24 teraflops, highly secure telecommunications, and a cluster architecture.

Extensive data analysed with ease

Numerous sensors attached to the patient capture brain pressure data, which is stored in huge digital files for later analysis by Isis. Through a single monitor linked to the system, staff can see graphic representations of patients’ progress and if necessary act on therapeutic recommendations issued by the system.

Thanks to Isis, complex data and events can be analysed quickly and simply. The system also can be used for evaluating nurses’ diagnosis of severe brain trauma and of related medical prescriptions.

The project will soon enter a fifth phase. Partners will expand it by linking to other critical care units on mainland Europe. They also would like to bring in other teams and to commercialise the Isis system as a research tool.

Draft date

14/12/2010