NextPlane: Improving patient safety with machine learning

About NextPlane

Founded in 2014, NextPlane Solutions seeks to remove barriers inherent in detection, analysis, learning, and elimination of preventable harm in healthcare.

Industries: Healthcare & Life Sciences
Location: United States

NextPlane moved to Google Cloud Platform and Google Cloud Natural Language to analyze patient safety stories and scale easily using machine learning that supports HIPAA compliance to help improve patient safety.

Google Cloud Platform Results

  • Helps eliminate preventable harm to patients by enabling hospitals to share information about safety improvements
  • Improves scalability, allowing NextPlane to connect more healthcare organizations
  • Supports HIPAA and SOC compliance
  • Frees NextPlane to focus on patient safety, not supporting infrastructure

Helping prevent thousands of deaths per year

When looking at threats to human health, many people think about heart disease, cancer, and automobile accidents. However, most people don’t realize that hospital errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States, claiming between 250,000 and 440,000 lives every year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the statistic is similar for most industrialized nations. Because these deaths result from errors, injuries, accidents, or infections, many are preventable.

To help U.S. hospitals assess and resolve patient safety and healthcare quality issues, the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 established a voluntary reporting system. It also created Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs) where healthcare providers can share and collaborate. Unfortunately, provider adoption of PSOs was delayed as each grappled with technical barriers to submit, analyze, and learn from safety issues that occurred elsewhere in the industry.

“A single patient safety story can save hundreds of lives if we share the lessons learned beyond organizational boundaries.”

Mike Personett, President, NextPlane

In 2014, NextPlane Solutions changed the patient safety landscape with its XChange platform, which has been adopted by more than 850 hospitals in 47 states. By making it easier for healthcare providers to submit data to PSOs, XChange cleared technical barriers to compare and learn from peer organizations to eliminate risks that others have experienced.

NextPlane has since expanded its patient safety ecosystem for healthcare providers to use locally. “A single patient safety story can save hundreds of lives if we share the lessons learned beyond organizational boundaries,” says Mike Personett, President at NextPlane. “Not a year from now or even a month from now, but right now—because time matters if you’re the next patient or care team to experience a patient safety event.”

As demand for its services grew, NextPlane needed a cloud platform where it could more securely store, analyze, and gain insights from health information without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure. It also wanted to introduce machine learning to analyze reports from doctors, nurses, and clinicians to make submission to PSOs easier, remove personally identifiable information, and improve search capabilities.

Any cloud solution also had to support HIPAA compliance. After considering other cloud providers, NextPlane decided to move to Google Cloud Platform and will soon use Google Cloud Natural Language, a powerful machine learning API for text analysis.

“Google is a cloud provider that brings limitless and dynamic scale along with strong commitments to machine learning and HIPAA compliance,” says Mike. “Leveraging Google Cloud Platform and Google Cloud Natural Language will allow us to concentrate on helping improve patient safety rather than developing and supporting core technology.”

“By feeding patient safety stories into Google Cloud Natural Language, we’ll help healthcare providers tell the story and share more meaningful information in a more secure manner.”

Mike Personett, President, NextPlane

Built for healthcare compliance

With its former hosting provider, NextPlane had limited control over hardware and network configurations, making it time consuming to satisfy security and audit requirements. Deploying new services took weeks and required long-term commitments and excessive costs. By contrast, NextPlane found Google Cloud Platform flexible and easy to use, spinning up services on Google Compute Engine in just a few hours.

“Google demonstrated its understanding of the healthcare industry by engineering essential security capabilities, such as control over encryption, into the cloud environment. That allows us to reduce human factor risks, giving our clients a more resilient security program,” says Mike. “Google Cloud Platform offers the security features we need. We can control where services are located, use a cloud platform that supports HIPAA compliance, and have peace of mind that security features are less exposed to human error.”

Improving information sharing

By using Google Cloud Natural Language to analyze content, sentiment, and syntax in healthcare providers’ reports, NextPlane will evaluate patient safety stories without human intervention. By identifying and removing personal health information, provider names, and locations, stories can be shared more securely to provide context around risk and learnings.

Patient safety stories also include keywords that identify various attributes of safety events, such as the underlying causes and system failure modes, medications and equipment involved, impact to the patient, and other key attributes that can be used in aggregate analysis. NextPlane plans to use Google Cloud Natural Language to extract sentiment and syntax to classify safety concerns into structured data and suggest categories—thus streamlining data entry for hospitals and enhancing search functionality for PSOs.

“By feeding patient safety stories into Google Cloud Natural Language, we’ll help healthcare providers tell the story and share more meaningful information in a more secure manner,” says Mike. “It’s easier for caregivers to share. Instead of answering question after question, they should just tell their stories. Patient safety stories are inherently unpredictable, so bypassing prepared questions to get to the heart of the matter saves caregivers minutes per report.”

“In patient safety, sharing and leveraging information saves lives. Google Cloud Platform and Google Cloud Natural Language will help us engage with more organizations, deliver information faster, and solve healthcare problems more effectively.”

Mike Personett, President, NextPlane

NextPlane also plans to use Google Cloud Speech to convert speech to text, giving providers another time-saving option for caregivers who prefer to verbally communicate their patient safety stories.

“Google Cloud machine learning APIs give us a wealth of capabilities that wouldn’t make sense to develop on our own. We’re getting a lot more for our dollar,” says Mike. “We didn’t have to apply for a grant or raise capital. We don’t have to wait. We can just plug in and go.”

Creating safer environments

Now one of the largest healthcare safety clouds in the world, NextPlane is playing a critical role in building a better national understanding of patient safety. With Google Cloud Platform, it can help more healthcare organizations look beyond their local information and proactively remove risks from their systems before a patient event occurs, helping to prevent thousands of deaths every year.

“In patient safety, sharing and leveraging information saves lives,” says Mike. “Google Cloud Platform and Google Cloud Natural Language will help us engage with more organizations, deliver information faster, and solve healthcare problems more effectively.”

About NextPlane

Founded in 2014, NextPlane Solutions seeks to remove barriers inherent in detection, analysis, learning, and elimination of preventable harm in healthcare.

Industries: Healthcare & Life Sciences
Location: United States
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