OPENPediatrics is an interactive, digital learning platform in which healthcare clinicians around the globe can access peer-reviewed resources to care for critically ill children. A nonprofit sponsored by Boston Children’s Hospital, OPENPediatrics’ leverages technology to promote worldwide sharing and exchange of knowledge. In 2018, OPENPediatrics’ free platform was accessed in every country and territory around the globe.
In 2008, Dr. Traci Wolbrink was visiting patients in a small town in Cambodia. She noticed that an overwhelming number of infants were afflicted by respiratory infections. A few weeks later, Wolbrink traveled to Malawi. Here, she observed that children with respiratory infections were being successfully treated with a Bubble CPAP, an inexpensive and noninvasive method for providing infants ventilation. While newborns in both communities were affected by respiratory infections, clinicians in Malawi had access to the tools, technology, and best practices necessary to treat the condition. If doctors and nurses in Cambodia had access to this same information, it could make an incredible impact on the community’ ability to care for infants.
At the same time, Dr. Jeffrey Burns was working in partnership with the intensive care unit at Boston Children’s Hospital's to advise an under-equipped hospital in Guatemala how to appropriately provide breathing support on a young child via conferencing software. Thanks to this approach, the little girl survived.
Through these firsthand experiences, Wolbrink and Burns recognized how effective technology can be to disseminate best practices between medical communities with varied access to resources and information. However, the global community of healthcare professionals lacked an accessible platform to connect, collaborate, and communicate. In response, Burns and Wolbrink founded OPENPediatrics, an online learning community that makes high-quality resources and virtual simulations accessible to clinicians around the world.
OPENPediatrics.org was originally built using a proprietary software, which served the needs of the organization for a period of time. However, as OPENPediatrics continued to grow, the propriety service could not support the needs of a worldwide network of clinicians. Instead, the team at OPENPediatrics required the flexibility to develop bespoke functionality and integrate with other technical systems; a capability that could not be supported under its proprietary license. Ensuring that the OPENPediatrics platform is reliable, safe, secure and compliant for all users was also a top priority.
To provide a highly performant and accessible platform for its global community of clinicians, Wolbrink and Burns turned to Acquia to help build the OPENPediatrics network with Acquia Cloud and Drupal, an open-source content management system.
Much like the Drupal community, all of OPENPediatrics’ contributions are volunteer-based. This includes hundreds of physicians, nurses, healthcare professionals and subject matter experts that all contribute content to the OPENPediatrics website. Twenty OPENPediatrics staff members monitor and publish content to the platform, which includes facilitating two rounds of peer review for every piece of content published. With Drupal’s content-authoring capabilities, OPENPediatrics’ team of content editors, developers and system administrators can use numerous modules and development tools out of the box that reduced manual entry and increased efficiency.
“At OPENPediatrics, it's really been a volunteer effort, and contributors don't get paid for what they do. They do it because they think that the mission of OPENPediatrics is important,” Dr. Traci Wolbrink said. “I see a lot of similarities between the way our community of clinicians volunteer their time to build an open and accessible content for OPENPediatrics and the Drupal community. It’s exciting that we also benefit from an incredible open source community that works to make OPENPediatrics’ content more accessible by contributing open code.”
Just as healthcare providers around the world rely on OPENPediatrics to collaborate on medical best practices, the OPENPediatrics team relied on the Drupal community to unlock open-source innovation. For example, when OPENPediatrics wanted to add new functionality to the platform, the development team could repurpose modules that were already built by the Drupal community. The ability to leverage readily available modules not only reduced the cost of development, but expedited the time required to bring the new OPENPediatrics.org to market.
At Acquia, we want our customers to build on their own terms. This means providing a flexible platform that allows organizations to extend investments across all of their technical systems. As one of the first organizations to leverage the power of digital to revolutionize healthcare delivery, OPENPediatrics is always on the leading-edge of using technology to deliver the best experience to clinicians and patients. Today, OPENPediatrics has added YouTube tutorials, virtual simulations, medical video games and podcasts to amplify its platform. The flexibility of the Acquia platform ensures that OPENPediatrics can continue to expand its platform as new technologies and learning services emerge to build the most performant platform for its users. For example, Burns and Wolbrink hope to incorporate artificial intelligence into the next generation of the OPENPediatrics platform.
Finally, for every healthcare professional within the OPENPediatrics community, patient privacy is paramount. With Acquia Cloud, OPENPediatrics can rely on a digital platform that is compliant, resilient, and secure. Instead of worrying about platform performance, the OPENPediatrics team can instead focus on building solutions that help critically ill children around the world.
“With Acquia, we can be confident that our data is secure, platform is secure, and no bugs or other technical challenges will get in the way out of clinicians,” Dr. Wolbrink said.
OPENPediatrics can now offer its global network of clinicians a collaborative, digital learning platform that is changing the healthcare landscape. With Acquia, OPENPediatrics can also depend on a partnership that will allow the organization to continue to grow its mission.
“One thing I’m really excited about is to continue to bring more knowledge to our community. Clinicians need information. So, how can we get more people contributing content to the platform to support this need?” asked Wolbrink. “I think that’s where the Acquia partnership comes in play, because we will be able to continue to upscale the platform as bigger and bigger opportunities come along.”
Although the life-changing technology is the delivery method, it’s the human interactions and ability to share firsthand experiences that truly feed the mission of bringing people and practices together.
“I was just in a conference in Amsterdam, and a clinician from Latvia came up to me and said, ‘We watch your World Shared Practice series every single month. I would never have access to the kind of caliber of speakers in my hospital. I get to be there with the best and the brightest every single month.’ It’s comments like that, I think, that keep you going and keep you motivated,” Wolbrink said.