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IBM IOD 2011: IBM launches Watson-like software for healthcare

IBM IOD 2011: IBM launches Watson-like software for healthcare

The predictive analytics platform uses the same natural processing as IBM's Watson supercomputer

IBM has released new predictive analytics software for the management of patient data in the healthcare industry, following the company's Watson supercomputer partnership with American health insurance company WellPoint.

The company launched the software, Content and Predictive Analytics for Healthcare, at its annual Information on Demand conference and described its utilisation of content analytics as similar to that of the supercomputer Watson.

The technology has been first deployed by US-based not-for-profit organisation, Seton Healthcare Family, which plans to focus the new software on the primary causes of hospital readmissions and the establishment of avenues to decrease multiple hospital visits.

Seton Healthcare chief executive, Charles Barnett, said the software used the same natural processing as Watson and would enable the organisation to leverage unstructured information.

“With this solution, we can access an integrated view of relevant clinical and operational information to drive more informed decision making,” Barnett said.

“For example, by predicting readmission candidates, we can reduce costly and preventable readmissions, decrease mortality rates, and ultimately improve the quality of life for our patients.”

The platform will speed up the process by taking medical information from large volumes of clinical and operational data and transform it into healthcare knowledge, taking into account trends, patterns, deviations, and the probability of outcomes.

However, an IBM spokesperson could not disclose details around whether the platform had any interest from Australian healthcare providers.

Speaking about the company's plans for Watson, IBM Watson strategist, Steve Gold, said the September partnership forged with WellPoint to commercialise Watson specifically for healthcare, would first aim to address certain types of cancer.

Gold noted that Watson would initially be used to assist clinicians with the diagnosis stage, as it would have the potential to study millions upon millions of pages of medical research, an impossible task for physicians given their limited time.

According to Gold, IBM was looking to secure more partners in the space including pharmaceutical companies and healthcare practitioners to further the uptake of the technology.

Gold also detailed IBM’s plans to forge partnerships with companies in other industry verticals such as financial services and the legal system, with an emphasis on partnerships as opposed to customers. By partnering with companies that have specific industry knowledge, Gold said, both companies can work together to commercialise Watson and tailor the technology to the specific industries’ needs.

Gold would not comment on whether IBM was currently in negotiations with potential new partners at this stage.

Chloe Herrick travelled to Las Vegas as a guest of IBM.

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Tags predictive analyticsIBM WatsonfinancialIBMsupercomputingWatsonHealthcare

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