Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What's Up Watson?

I am always amazed when massive companies make monumental announcements about some new thing. I recall back when IBM tried to get into the satellite data business with SBS. Tons of money spent with a management who really did not understand the technology. Then they tries on line services with Trintex with almost the same cast of carriers, and the list goes on. Gerstner seemed to have a focus by bringing them to the world of professional services, giving their customers what they wanted. All too often telling customers what they should have has not been an IBM forte.

Now comes Watson and Medicine. I would like them to consider a recent NEJM case D is for Delay. I like this one because it exemplifies the current practice of medicine. Simply a patient who has taken poor care of himself enters a hospital after many prior admissions with a list of complaints. Then off they go looking for the zebras only to find that he has a niacin deficiency. Not that the professionals did anything wrong, it was just a messy case. There were many shadows. How would a Watson handle this?

Becker's states:

1. IBM introduced a new healthcare unit, IBM Watson Health, which will use cognitive computing to advance innovation using the volume of personal data that is created everyday. The health unit will be headquartered in the Boston area.
2. The company is also establishing the Watson Health Cloud, a secure and open platform for physicians, researchers, insurers and other healthcare companies to access individualized insights and a holistic image of what can affect people's health.
3. To help support IBM Watson's foray into health IT, the company is collaborating with Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic to create new offerings that leverage information collected from health, medical and fitness devices.
4. With Apple, IBM will provide the new Watson Health Clod as a secure platform and analytics offering for Apple's HealthKit and ResearchKit. IBM will de-identify and store health data in the cloud to foster an "open ecosystem environment" that also offers researchers and developers to utilize IBM's data mining and predictive analytics capabilities.
5. Johnson & Johnson and IBM will collaborate to create intelligent coaching systems regarding preoperative and postoperative patient care for procedures including joint replacement and spinal surgery. The new solutions will utilize Waton's cognitive capabilities and access Watson Health Cloud's data. Additionally, J&J plans to launch health apps focused on chronic conditions.
6. Leveraging insights from Watson Health Cloud, Medtronic and IBM plan to develop personalized care management solutions for people with diabetes. The solutions will gather and analyze patient information from Medtronic devices, such as glucose monitors and insulin pumps, and provide personalized management strategies to patients and their providers.

Now that is a great deal of investment and involvement in a market rant with regulation.  I am reminded of many a physicians difficulties dealing with the "shadows", namely symptoms that may lead anywhere but with no clear path. A recent example was that of an individual with intermittent head pain, somewhat localized, and not controlled. The age was an issue and thus one looked after vasculitis, lesions, strokes, trigeminal neuralgia, and the list goes on. And yes even dental issues, with three different dentists. Lots of suggestions, down the trail of differential diagnosis but to no avail.

Then the patient just gave up, went to an oral surgeon and said to take out the damn wisdom tooth. Well, guess what, the root had wrapped around the trigenimanl branch and could not be seen, and after surgery, problem solved. Try that one Watson, it was the patient who found the solution!