The Mayo Clinic and IBM are jointly developing an advanced medical database that will combine clinical records with demographic data and even genomic information to provide medical researchers with a resource for supporting clinical trials and improving treatment practices. The system will help the clinic's physicians diagnose illnesses faster and prescribe treatments better tailored to the needs of the clinic's 500,000 annual patients.
Currently, doctors who need clinical, genomic, proteomic (protein-related), and demographic data must search multiple databases, a process that can take days, says Bill Wong, IBM's director of DB2 for Linux and life sciences. The new system will use IBM's DB2 database and DiscoveryLink software, allowing physicians to search multiple databases within the Mayo Clinic with a single SQL query, he says.
IBM and the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn., are in the first phase of the multiyear project. That includes identifying what specific data is needed for the central database and taking the first steps at loading the data, Wong says. The database will include archived records collected from informed, consenting patients. The database will also help Mayo Clinic researchers identify potential clinical-trial participants.
Spending for IT hardware, software, and services by the life-sciences industry is expected to reach $43 billion by 2004, according to market consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, with data management alone accounting for $4.5 billion.