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LiveData OR Dashboard Puts MDs on the Cutting Edge

Forget those frantic scenes from ER featuring residents yelling the vital statistics they see on monitors in operating rooms. At Massachusetts General Hospital's Operating Room of the Future (ORF), the LiveData OR dashboard ensures that everyone -- surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists -- has the same information at the same time.

Enabling real-time delivery are software and integration services from LiveData Inc., a Cambridge, Mass.-based company. They tap into MGH data -- on patients, staff, surgery schedules -- spread among 1,100 Windows Servers in three data centers. Many of the applications are homegrown, knowledge-based systems.

"By doing a bunch of siloed things, quite often you have to interface things," says Keith Jennings, corporate manager of information services at the $1.8-billion Harvard-affiliated teaching hospital.

Now the LiveData plasma screen displays information ranging from tiny details that make procedures simpler -- the first names of nurses, for example -- to vital patient stats such as allergies, heart rate and blood type. Jennings, who joined MGH's parent company, Partners HealthCare, five years ago, led the service-oriented architecture (SOA) project that allows LiveData to dial into MGH's dispersed data. "If we put a wrapper around it," Jennings explains, "we can let whoever needs it call the service."

Once created, the services are practically free and can be used to tap into additional data sources for much less than the cost of writing and maintaining interfaces. And don't forget the improved patient safety and comfort they allow. "How do you put an ROI on that?" Jennings says. "It's priceless." Problem solved.

Ellen O'Brien, a former senior editor at CIO Decisions, is now a senior editor at Storage magazine. Write to her at

This was last published in March 2006

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