Kansas City,
08:57 AM

KC Business Journal: Children's Mercy looks to splice cloud computing, genomic medicine

Dr. Mark Hoffman

Improvements in computational medicine will help Children's Mercy identify a wide spectrum of rare diseases through its Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine.

The center, the first to be hosted in a children's hospital, launched in 2011. Using its specialized software, Children's Mercy can sequence and analyze a patient's entire genome against a database of genetic diseases.

Just five years later, with growing big data analysis abilities thanks to cloud computing, Chief Research Information Officer Mark Hoffman said the center could process large swaths of data more efficiently.

"Building systems to scale with the growth in volume and complexity of data is always a challenge. Historically, the approach was to add more hardware," he said.

Now, with cloud-based data analysis models, he said Children's Mercy might look at strategies to combine on-site and cloud-based resources.

"We'll be able to reach even more significant insights for children and other patients who have not been effectively helped by the health care system because they have a very complex clinical problem," Hoffman added. "In many cases they travel from place to place trying to get a concrete diagnosis. That's an excruciating process for the children and for the family. When you take a computational science approach … the hope is that new insights can be realized."

One challenge in this process, Hoffman said, is bringing in a skilled workforce that can engineer meaningful insights from the disparate data. From his past experience as an executive at Cerner Corp., Hoffman knows a team with the ability to ask meaningful clinical questions and convert them into a machine-readable format is in high demand.

"When you do that, you can ask questions that were never feasible," he said.


Read the full story via the Kansas City Business Journal.

Learn more about the Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine at Children's Mercy.