How cognitive computing is changing healthcare
This Q&A is part of a series of interviews following the release of the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) paper: “A booster shot for health and wellness: Your cognitive future in the healthcare industry”. As the healthcare industry evaluates how cognitive computing can be utilized to its advantage, Andreas Haimböck-Tichy tells us what this means for healthcare stakeholders.
Q. When we spoke to some IBM healthcare leaders last year on the topic of cognitive computing in healthcare, they reported a feeling of excitement and general positivity towards the potential of cognitive computing in healthcare. How have you seen this change over the past year, and what is the feeling now?
A. One of the main changes we are seeing is that people are becoming motivated to understand cognitive and its applications to their fields of expertise. Healthcare professionals are embracing the possibilities and are seeking out more information and detail. Importantly, senior members and leaders from within the NHS want to learn about it, where it could fit within their units, and the potential benefits.
Q. Can you tell us about any IBM use cases within healthcare?
A. There are a number publicized use cases in the UK already. For example, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and a leading healthcare charity are seeing the first implementation of cognitive computing. Both projects are at a relatively early stage with live users working with the systems. For Alder Hey the initial work is focused on improving children’s experience before, during and after their hospital visit or stay. The healthcare charity is focused on using cognitive to help sufferers manage their specific condition more effectively. It is exciting to see these organizations utilizing and embedding cognitive computing into their ways of working.
More broadly there four areas of interest for specific use cases we are finding with clients:
* User Experience – Surprisingly the cognitive computing application focus has been around user experience. It was commonly assumed the main healthcare application would be clinical and decision making support, but the quick wins have been around user experience. Cognitive is being implemented and used to help with patient understanding of their conditions, how they can manage their condition and treatment, and potential consequences of procedures.
* Research – Huge amounts of data are being produced constantly, not only in real time through patient-clinician interactions and treatments, but also in new and ongoing research. Developing new insights, both into and across this vast amount of data is hugely important, and an ideal application area for cognitive computing.
* Clinical application – Another exciting and ground breaking area of focus is we have seen Watson being applied to Oncology. Now, the challenge is to make that pervasive across the healthcare system and create further instances of Watson for specific aspects of medicine such as pediatrics or maternal medicine, and then ever more specific areas within these spaces.
* Clinical and operational efficiency – Cognitive computing is being implemented and planned for optimizing procedures and processes to save money and offer a better way of working across organizations.
Q. What lessons can be learned from these use cases and other cognitive computing projects?
As with any relatively new area there are always aspects which can be improved upon, one of the main lessons learned is in the approach to implementation. It is important to start with specific area of concern or a specific issue to be addressed. Something wide enough to be meaningful to the broader organization and its issues, while being narrow enough to display measurable success and progress. This relates back to the fundamental issue of data which was highlighted in our report last year. Before any insightful solutions can be found one must have the appropriate data available to train the system, otherwise the results will not be meaningful, useful or appropriate.
Visit IBM Wealth Health Booth #1809 at HIMSS17 (Feb 19-23, 2017) to learn more about cognitive technology for the healthcare industry and meet IBM experts on it.
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Next: The disruptive forces shaping the healthcare arena.