Using big data to save lives

Oct 22, 2012

Computer scientists at the University of California, Riverside are working with a doctor at Children's Hospital Los Angeles to mine data collected from pediatric intensive care units in hopes of helping doctors treat children and cutting health care costs.

The researchers, led by Eamonn Keogh, a computer science professor at UC Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering, have received a four-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

"This data has the potential to be a gold mine of useful – literally life saving – information," said Keogh, who specializes in data mining, which involves searching for patterns and irregularities in large data sets.

He is working with: Dr. Randall Wetzel, of Children's Hospital Los Angeles; Walid Najjar and Vasilis Tsotras, both computer science professors at UC Riverside; and David Kale, one of Keogh's graduate students.

Today, in pediatric intensive care units across the nation sensors are attached to children to record up to 30 measurements, such as , blood pressure and temperature. The sensors allow for real-time monitoring of the child and can trigger an alarm if, for example, a child's temperature exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Usually, the sensors only display the last few minutes of data and figures such as the minimum and maximum temperature for that day. In most cases, the rest of the data is discarded.

This is in part due to legal and privacy issues, which the researchers believe can be solved. It's also because didn't have the tools to mine the vast amounts of data produced in pediatric intensive care units.

That changed after Keogh and a group of researchers recently developed a new technique, which allows for searching of with more than one trillion objects. That's a larger set than the combined size of all datasets in all data mining papers ever published.

The new technique was outlined in a paper "Searching and Mining Trillions of Time Series Subsequences under Dynamic Time Warping." It was named best paper at the ACM SIGKDD data mining conference in August in Beijing.

During the past five years, Children's Hospital Los Angeles has collected data from its units. It's typically sampled once every 30 seconds. This dataset includes more than one billion individual measurements.

With the support of the grant, Children's Hospital Los Angeles plans to explore options to capture and store data from five or more sensors and capture multiple data points per second.

In the coming years, Keogh and the team of researchers plan to investigate two areas, which are interconnected.

One is mining the archived pediatric data from Children's Hospital Los Angeles to find regularities and patterns than can aid doctors in diagnosing and predicting medical episodes.

The second is taking the regularities and patterns they discovered and incorporating them real time into unit sensors to see if they help doctors.

Keogh plans to use the archived data to develop algorithms that incorporate what he calls "if then rules" that can assist doctors. For example, if a heart beat looks like this, then a child may have difficulty breathing in five seconds.

The difficulty, Keogh said, is to find medically useful patterns because there are an infinite number of trivial patterns, such as people who tend to have babies are female and people over six-feet tall are over five-feet tall.

"We have to find those that aren't known but are useful and that can benefit from intervention," Keogh said. "That will be tricky."

Explore further: Computer scientists can predict the price of Bitcoin

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Spending time in the intensive care unit can traumatize kids

Sep 03, 2008

Children who spend time in the intensive care unit of a hospital can be traumatized by the experience even months after returning home. Dr. Janet Rennick from the Research Institute of The Montreal Children's Hospital of ...

Help wanted: Insect classifiers needed

Jul 11, 2012

Filled with tables, chairs and computers, Eamonn Keogh’s lab at the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering looks like many computer science labs.

Recommended for you

How to find a submarine

5 minutes ago

Das Boot, The Hunt for Red October, The Bedford Incident, We Dive At Dawn: films based on submariners' experience reflect the tense and unusual nature of undersea warfare – where it is often not how well ...

Google offers peek into Bhutan with Street View launch

1 hour ago

Google provided a sneak peek into Bhutan Thursday by unveiling a Street View project for the remote Himalayan kingdom, featuring panoramic views of its majestic mountains, monasteries and crystal-clear rivers.

Nokia turnaround since handset unit sale continues

4 hours ago

Nokia appears to have turned around its fortunes after the sale of its ailing cellphone unit to Microsoft, reporting a third-quarter net profit of 747 million euros ($950 million), from a loss of 91 million euros a year earlier. ...

User comments : 0