News

7.06.2016

UHealth Part of Select Collaborative Using IBM’s Watson to Tackle Major Diseases

UHealth – the University of Miami Health System is part of a cognitive imaging collaborative that will be using IBM’s Watson to bring cognitive imaging into daily practice to help physicians address some of the most challenging illnesses affecting the U.S. population. The IBM Watson Medical Imaging Collaborative will be used to examine breast, lung, and other cancers; diabetes; eye health; brain disease; and heart disease and related conditions, such as stroke.

Cancer imaging at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and ophthalmology imaging from Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, both part of UHealth, will be implemented as part of this consortium. Brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, will be led by UHealth’s neurological experts while endocrinologists and other multidisciplinary teams will focus on diabetes.

The collaborative, made up of 16 members, including the University of California San Diego, University of Vermont Health Network, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Merge Healthcare, UHealth and others, is part of IBM’s broader Watson Health initiative to improve health worldwide. UHealth is the only academic-based medical center in South Florida that is part of the collaborative.

As part of this work, members of the collaborative plan to put Watson to work to extract insights from previously “invisible” unstructured imaging data and combine that with a broad variety of data from other sources. This may help physicians make personalized care decisions relevant to a specific patient while building a body of knowledge to benefit broader patient populations. This information may include data from electronic health records, radiology and pathology reports, lab results, doctors’ progress notes, medical journals, clinical care guidelines and published outcomes studies.

Initial plans include training Watson and evaluating potential new offerings in a variety of patient care environments ranging from stand-alone ambulatory settings to integrated health delivery networks. The goal is to gather data based on diverse real-world experience and to share findings to inform how the medical community might reduce operational and financial inefficiencies, improve physician workflows, and adopt a patient-focused approach to improving patient care and outcomes. In addition, medical experts could determine how to integrate Watson into the existing health IT systems of the imaging technology companies in the collaborative. One example would be integrating with electronic health records and PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication Systems) to deliver cognitive insights to providers within existing clinical workflows.

“This initiative between IBM Watson and the medical imaging collaborative represents the transition from the theoretical potential of Big Data to the application of Big Data to improve human health,” said David M. Seo, M.D., Chief Information Officer and Associate Vice President of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “Imagine the benefit to our patients when Watson-integration can assist our Sylvester physicians to more clearly recognize disease at its earliest stage, or our Bascom Palmer expert ophthalmologist to make a pinpoint diagnosis with this technology. We are elated that UHealth is to be a foundational part of this coalition with IBM. I believe that I will look back on June 22, 2016, in 10 years and point to it as a day the paradigm of health care was changed.”

Imaging is a notoriously data-intensive field with volume, variety and speed of data generation multiplying every day. Conventional imaging tools are incapable of efficiently managing such large and complex datasets, limiting scalability, sustainability and usability. This growing trove of imaging information is currently disconnected from other relevant data such as wearable devices, population health data, clinical guidelines, and peer-reviewed evidence. As a result, imaging experts and radiologists are always searching for improved methods to efficiently and accurately diagnose, treat and monitor patients.

With an ability to draw insights from massive volumes of structured and unstructured data sources (including images), cognitive computing could transform how clinicians diagnose, treat and monitor patients. Through this collaborative, Watson may create opportunities for radiologists to extract greater insights and value from images and eliminate wasteful spending.

Members of the imaging collaborative will both teach and learn from Watson during this project. IBM’s super-computing platform will be continuously trained and clinically validated by radiologists and specialists from a diverse, multi-region network of academic medical centers, integrated delivery networks, other acute healthcare settings, and ambulatory care facilities. UHealth and the other collaboration members will pilot new cognitive imaging offerings in a variety of patient care environments, gathering data based on real-world experience. The members will also publish their findings to better inform how the medical community might reduce operational and financial inefficiencies, improve physician workflow and adopt a patient-focused approach to improving treatment plans.

Recent studies reveal that inadequate, unnecessary, uncoordinated, and inefficient care and suboptimal business processes eat up at least 35 percent — and maybe more than 50 percent — of the more than $3 trillion the United States spends annually on healthcare. That suggests more than $1 trillion is being squandered. Watson Health aims to help healthcare professionals improve care and reduce waste by enabling enhanced utilization of medical imaging data and providing cognitive offerings and services that support a doctor’s ability to make tailored medical recommendations personalized to each patient’s unique needs.

“With the ability to draw insights from massive volumes of integrated structured and unstructured data sources, cognitive computing could transform how clinicians diagnose, treat and monitor patients,” said Anne Le Grand, who recently joined IBM as vice president of imaging for Watson Health. “Through IBM’s medical imaging collaborative, Watson may create opportunities for clinicians to extract greater insights and value from imaging data while better managing costs.”

Members of the collaborative are expected to team with Watson Health cognitive computing experts to train Watson on cardiovascular disease, eye health and other conditions using data provided by the members of the collaborative or from population-based disease registries, which house millions of de-identified cases from around the world. To help create new solutions powered by Watson, the industry members of the collaborative could integrate Watson into their workflow systems or image management software.

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