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March 06, 2012

IBM Forms Board of Experts to Work on Watson-Based Solutions for Healthcare Industry

By Deborah Hirsch, TMCnet Contributor

Long known for its computers and software, IBM (News - Alert) is now taking big steps in the healthcare industry. Today the company announced it has formed a new Watson Healthcare Advisory Board of medical experts in primary care, oncology, biomedical informatics and medical innovation to help doctors and healthcare professionals improve diagnosis and treatment in chronic disease and oncology, according to a company press release.

The goal, the press release says, is to provide IBM with “insights on healthcare issues that could be positively impacted by Watson technology adoption.”

The advisory board will “focus on medical industry trends, clinical imperatives, regulatory considerations, privacy concerns, and patient and clinician expectations around the Watson technology and how it can be incorporated into clinician workflows,” according to the press release.

Watson currently provides analytical solutions and decision support systems that extract medical facts and quickly understand relationships buried in large volumes of data – such as electronic medical records, family history, and the latest clinical research – to help improve clinical decisions, reduce costs and build up positivepatient outcomes."Watson represents a technology breakthrough that can help physicians improve patient outcomes," said Dr. Herbert Chase, a professor of clinicalmedicine at Columbia University, in the press release. "As IBM focuses its efforts on key areas including oncology, cardiology and other chronic diseases, the advisory board will be integral to helping align the business strategy to the specific needs of the industry."

According to the press release, the Watson computing technologies used for solutions in the healthcare industry are concurrently being developed and commercialized by IBM and the healthcare industry itself.

Recommendations made by the Watson Healthcare Advisory Board will be shared with IBM clients and used by IBM's global team of healthcare industry professionals to “create smarter healthcare systems, focused on the patient, aimed at reducing medical errors, achieving better patient safety and quality outcomes, and saving lives,” according to the press release.

IBM initially saw Watson as answering questions for physicians at the point of care, when it dipped its toes into the healthcare world back last April, and after Watson’s stunning showing on Jeopardy!

IBM announced in September that it had signed an agreement with WellPoint, Inc. to “develop and launch Watson-based solutions to help improve patient care through the delivery of up-to-date, evidence-based health care.” IBM said at the time that it will develop the technology on which WellPoint's solution will run.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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