It’s hard to imagine a situation more stressful than being a parent caring for a child with a potentially mortal illness. One such illness that has been the cause of great tragedy for many parents is Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), which is a severe cardiac issue that causes a child to be born with only one ventricle in their heart. Children afflicted with HLHS need to be kept under constant supervision with every aspect of their life being recorded, and even under the best care, 25% of babies don’t make it to their second surgery.
In one of Microsoft’s most recent blog posts, they tell the story of the Cardiac High Acuity Monitoring Program, also known as CHAMP. CHAMP, conceived in 2012 by pediatric cardiologist Dr. Girish Shirali, is an app that lets parents plug in pertinent figures every day in order to keep their medical team informed. If any of the numbers are outside of the norm or if the parent decides something is amiss, the team gets alerted on the spot. CHAMP runs on a Surface Pro 3 with Windows 10, using the power of the Microsoft cloud for good.
“Maybe with smarter analytics, we’ll realize there are softer thresholds that will let us treat the baby quicker and even avoid hospitalization altogether,” Shirali says. “Rather than the analysis simply telling us that saturation is low, it could instead tell us that the risk of an adverse cardiac event in the next three days just went from 2 percent to 40 percent, and tell us why.”
So far, babies that are being taken care of with the use of CHAMP have a 100% survival rate, and the parents of those children are reporting that they feel somewhat safe because of the safety net that the app has to offer. While no software could ever put the minds of these parents at ease, CHAMP’s ability to give doctors a consistent and comprehensive idea of their patient’s well-being helps to avoid much of the risk that children afflicted by HLHS tend to face – especially given that 75% of HLHS fatalities happen unexpectedly.
The team behind CHAMP is hoping to bring the app to other children’s hospitals soon, and even get it working for other diseases. It’s very possible that the time will come when CHAMP is being used widely as an early detection service for patients of all ages with any number of medical complications. For now, however, it’s evident that the use of the app has saved several lives, and will continue to do so.