IBM Watson Health Launches Value-Based Care Solution

Silas Inman

​IBM has announced the next step for Watson Health: a value-based care management solution. The new system, built on the Watson supercomputing artificial intelligence backbone, will combine, analyze, and make predictions based on data in electronic health records, hospital administrative and clinical databases, claims data, and other sources.

IBM has announced the next step for Watson Health: a value-based care management solution. The new system, built on the Watson supercomputing artificial intelligence backbone, will combine, analyze, and make predictions based on data in electronic health records (EHR), hospital administrative and clinical databases, claims data, and other sources.

The new Watson Health product was announced during a keynote address by IBM chairman, president, and CEO Ginni Rometty. The new value-based system, which is completely cloud based, gives providers and insurers the ability to identify potential risk factors and flags to prevent events at a population, group, or individual basis.

"This idea of cognitive healthcare, systems that learn, this is real and it is mainstream and it is here and it can change almost everything about healthcare," said Rometty during her talk.

Watson Health is already integrated into healthcare systems across the globe and has been gathering data and learning for the past few years. Watson for Oncology, with a focus on personalized medicine, is rolling out across China, India, Thailand, and Finland, Rometty announced. In India, specifically, there is a shortage of oncologists, with just 1 doctor for every 1600 patients.

"We're on a path for there to be 22 million new cancer cases a year, and 70% of the news cases are in developing countries," said Rometty. What once took doctors in India 20 minutes to gather now takes just 20 seconds with Watson, she added.

Watson for Oncology has also made an impact in the United States, where oncologists at top cancer centers across the country helped to train the artificial intelligence platform. At the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center, Watson and physician recommendations matched for nearly 100% of 1000 cases, with Watson detecting greater clinically actionable items in 30% of cases.

Based on its ability to detect these obscure findings, Watson for Genetics is now being incorporated into tests from Quest Diagnostics and Illumina. Now, Rometty announced, Atrius Health is incorporating Watson cognition directly into its EHR. "Precision medicine is really starting to come alive," she said.

Outside of oncology, Watson already has a broad reach, especially within the United States federal government. The Watson platform now serves 50 different Health and Human Services departments and analyzes 44% of all Medicaid cases. It also works with the health agencies of 18 countries, Rometty noted.

The expanded use of systems like Watson will require a reconsideration of existing data architectures, particularly given the breadth of data sources that can be used and transferred to the cloud-based services, Rometty said. To utilize a cognitive system, a full spectrum of data will need to be pulled together, including both unstructured and structured data. In medicine, this includes a wealth of scans and images, which makes up 90% of data and were previously not utilized.

With all this now being possible, Rometty noted that a golden era was on the horizon for healthcare, one she called the cognitive era. "This is a time to play offense, because you could build this world," she said. "This cognitive world will be a healthier world, it will be more secure. It will in the end be less wasteful. It will be productive, it will be personalized. And in the end, it's a fairer, more diverse, and I believe more just world."