Great Ormond Street Hospital: Tackling extraordinary challenges with technology

Whilst I was outside Great Ormond Street hospital (GOSH) having coffee, waiting for my meeting, I watched a regular stream of children being taken through the main reception; ambulances queued up outside, announcing the severity of the emergency service they provided; and children were led by parents through to this iconic centre of care. As a parent, I couldn't help grapple with my own emotions, seeing both the hope and gravity of this establishment.

Then, the time came for my meeting. As I walked into the hospital, I quickly realised I wasn’t going to walk out the same. This story is my experience of bringing Arm healthcare and technology insight into one of the greatest, most forward-thinking children’s hospitals of our day.

Not just a children’s hospital, but a leading research institution, as well

Great Ormond Street Hospital is the place where the most seriously ill children from across the UK come for life-saving treatments. Every day 260 children arrive, many of whom go straight to intensive care, with over 250,000 being treated annually. Not only is GOSH a world-renown centre for paediatric care, but it is also deeply connected to research, publishing hundreds of papers per year. It has the highest research impact of all children’s hospitals, with more than 600 active research projects at any given time.

Walking into the main reception area, I saw parents and children waiting to be ushered around this major, 600-bed hospital in the centre of London. As I walked further into the building, I was curious how a representative from Arm was going to engage with professionals whose daily task is to make life prevail against the toughest of odds.  

I knew I couldn’t talk about the latest Arm architecture, or the GPU’s FPS, or even device provisioning. To gain insight into their challenges, I needed to talk in the language of battling the most complex illnesses, bringing together the brightest minds, and ultimately, changing the smallest of lives.

The joy of digital bubbles

Stepping forward into the main entrance, my eye was drawn to the sight of a child playing next to the giant pirate ship.  A small two or three-year-old girl with a nasal tube was running and jumping in a digitally-projected, interactive splash pool.  As she bounced around, colourful bubbles flooded her feet, and she was fully immersed in this digitally playful experience. Lost in the moment, she didn’t appear concerned with her health battles, but light and free; and her parents were lifted as well, watching with delight.  With this girl’s simple play, I understood why GOSH had invited me.  Clinicians are winning amazing battles daily, and technology can complement their progress in so many areas that we have yet to imagine.

The progression of healthcare and technology in the past 20 years

I met Professor Neil Sebire (Professor of Paediatric and Developmental Pathology at ICH/UCL and Consultant Paediatric Pathologist at GOSH) and Amit Aggarwal (Director, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity) in the reception, and the conversation quickly turned to the scale of the operation at the hospital and the role technology needed to play.  These types of conversations in hospitals aren’t new to me. I’ve visited many hospitals, all the way from the UK to China, and I’ve been working with healthcare for 20+ years.

At each step of the way, I have been amazed by how conversations with clinicians around the use of technology has globally changed; from 10 -15 years ago, when the conversation was all about competing with the ‘then’ best-practice procedures, to the iPad generation, when the crux of the conversation was about presenting more information at your fingertips, enabling clinicians to make faster, better decisions. 

Transforming into an e-hospital – and the power of data

GOSH isn’t technically slow; every bedside has monitors galore, and nurses are surrounded by a video arcade of monitors that display live data from every patient in their ward.  GOSH was founded in 14 February 1852, yet the parts of the hospital I explored were highly modern, with facilities for children and parents alike. Neil explained that the hospital has recently decided to transform into what’s called an e-hospital, where all data is electronically connected and stored, as opposed to their current system where 95% of live data is discarded.

To accomplish this feat, GOSH will be using the EPIC patient record system partners with a research data framework that is capable of bi-directly HL7 FHIR communication with EPIC, and where all data - whether EMR compliant or not – will be stored.

This e-hospital evolution isn’t, however, just about patient records and storing more data – the vision and goals behind this are far broader. It raises questions, such as:

  • What insights and lessons can be seen within the data?
  • What extra research can take place?
  • What additional benefits can we give patients that come to the hospital?
  • How can GOSH support more hospitals around the UK?
  • And ultimately: how can the lessons learnt in this unique establishment help the lives of the smallest people around the world?

The vision of the GOSH digital exemplar health unit

What Neil sees on a daily basis with his eyes and feels in his heart, I’m happy being ignorant about. But for me, the compelling moment came when Neil – himself, like a proud parent – took me into a brand new multi-million-pound (GBP) office block, just yards from the main hospital block, that is planned to be a digitally exemplar health unit. Combining patient records with IoT, Robotic, ML and AI, sensors and wearables in a brand-new space. 

The architect’s drawing hung on the wall explaining that, in the centre of the room, there will be a configurable space for a surgical theatre, ward bed or home. VIPs will be invited in to immerse themselves in the latest technology, the same as the young child immersed herself in digital bubbles.

Neil has a vision for this empty room that not only permits technology to play a role in improving health, but actively draws people like us into an environment we don’t feel comfortable. He wants to pose us the questions that really challenge our understanding of technology. The ability to make a difference is not simply a technology-push, but is now a pragmatic conversation of a multi-discipline, targeted vision, combined with real hands-on application. 

Arm provides the foundation for healthcare of the future

Within Arm, it is a privilege to know that our solutions power the IoT devices, mobile phones, laptops, servers and automobiles of our current and future worlds. And now with healthcare, we help innovators realize their desires and dreams, by providing the building blocks of the possible – from microcontrollers that power the smallest health sensors all the way to high-end CPUs and GPUs for fast and efficient genomic sequencing.

Arm has established a partner network to create change that is truly unique, and it’s important that we stay as connected with our end users as our silicon partners. Health is no longer defending change; health is wanting to tackle extraordinary challenges and make a difference together.

See how Arm technology helps healthcare providers like GOSH