By Jane Clabby
IBM and the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business announced winners of the first academic competition focused on developing new use cases for Watson. 25 graduate students in a variety of business-related majors formed teams that yielded seven proposals illustrating how Watson’s technology could be applied to solve complex challenges in the transportation, energy, retail and public sector industries. The judges included IBM executives, faculty members and business leaders, and criteria for winning included depth of marketing research, clear articulation of concept, understanding of the technology and Big Data, as well as feasibility.
First, second and third place awards were given, and the winning ideas follow:
1) First Place “Managing Data in the Eye of a Storm” – Weather data and the latest census numbers could be used to help organizations better prepare for a crisis and allocate resources accordingly in the event of a weather-related disaster. Watson’s ability to look at unstructured and structured information could more accurately identify weather patterns and help improve response times.
2) Second Place “Mining for Insights, Literally” –Watson could help energy companies improve the understanding of environmental impacts, and regulatory and safety information to reduce accidents while avoiding the over exploration of natural resources by considering profit margin, consumption rates and and opportunities for exploration of oil, gas and mineral reserves.
3) Third Place ”Unpacking Big Data Improves Travel Experience” – Watson could be used to analyze unstructured historic airport –related information and customer travel data to enhance security and reduce wait times to improve the travel experience.
This competition is an example of the type of work done through IBM’s Academic Initiative,“a global program that facilitates the collaboration between IBM and educators to teach students the information technology skills they need to be competitive and keep pace with changes in the workplace.” Interest from both IBM and one of the nation’s leading MBA programs illustrates the importance being placed on the knowledge and use of business analytics and evidence-based reasoning for future business leaders. IBM’s press release cites a statistic from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics which states that there will be a 24 percent increase in demand for professionals with management analysis skills over the next 8 years. Joint projects such as this ensure that college and graduate students will have the skills necessary to compete in today’s job market.
By Jane Clabby
Researchers at The State University of New York (SUNY) Buffalo are using IBM analytics to create algorithms to analyze big data containing genomic datasets to discover factors that contribute to the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS). By studying more than 2000 genetic and environmental factors, researchers hope to identify trends in MS patients that can be used to improve treatment and slow the cognitive, physical and brain impairments caused by MS.
According to IBM, the breadth of clinical data including medical records, lab reports, and test results combined with individual patient data including characteristics such as gender, diet, exercise, sun exposure and living and working conditions would take researchers days to analyze and correlate to find any meaningful patterns. But by using Big Data analytics, both structured and unstructured patient and clinical data can be sorted and analyzed in minutes, allowing researchers to look at trends and patterns in the data rather than focusing on the data itself.
Researchers at SUNY Buffalo are using IBM Netezza, a purpose-built, standards-based data warehouse appliance based on IBM BladeCenter technology that integrates database, server, storage, and analytics software into a single, easy-to-manage system. Also part of the solution is software from an IBM partner, Revolution Analytics, a leading commercial provider of software and services based on the open source R programming language designed for statistical computing and data analysis.
For complex medical conditions such as MS, analytics are the best way to look for subtle differences in a patient’s history and symptoms that explain, for example, why one patient’s condition worsens at a different rate than another patient with similar symptoms. The goal is to individualize and personalize treatment based on a thorough understanding of the patient and all factors relating to their condition. Analytics can be used in the same way in other industries. For example, in retail, understanding a person’s buying patterns, preferences, and response to sales and promotions can help on-line retailers target consumers with individual offers that are based on information learned about their specific buying habits.
By Jane Clabby
IBM announced today that they will acquire Vivisimo, a provider of federated discovery and navigation software to help in the analysis of big data. Vivisimo analyzes both structured and unstructured data and can easily and transparently navigate across the enterprise, capturing data wherever it resides without physically moving that data– improving performance and speeding time-to-value..
Vivisimo has 140 clients spanning multiple verticals including government, defense, manufacturing, financial services, consumer goods, and medical and scientific research. Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory used Vivisimo to “discover, search, and navigate multiple federated data sources to provide the lab’s 4,500 employees with a unified search tool for content, project and expertise information”. The technology will also be instrumental in speeding up processing that will enable Watson to ingest large volumes of data.
According to IBM, IBM’s big data analytics capabilities combined with Vivisimo software will enable a new class of applications that will help businesses better understand consumer behavior, manage customer churn and network performance, detect fraud in real-time, and perform data-intensive marketing campaigns.
Vivisimo’s technology has several unique features that improve its discovery and navigation capabilities. Accuracy is improved with its position-based index technology and its ability to leverage usage and feedback information. Security features ensure that users only have access to the information for which they are authorized. Vivisimo can scale to trillions of records for quick access to enterprise information throughout the organization. And Vivisimo comes with a broad range of connectors to unstructured as well as structured information sources.
IBM also announced that in addition to supporting open source Apache Hadoop, they will be expanding their big data platform to run on other versions of Hadoop, starting with Cloudera, making IBM “ the only platform that supports multiple open source distributons.” As a result, Cloudera Hadoop clients can now take advantage of IBM’s big data platform to perform complex analytics and build a new generation of software applications.
By Jane Clabby
Korea’s Soon Chun Hyang University Hospital selected IBM over Hitachi and HP to provide an integrated hardware and software “smarter computing” platform that will enable them to improve the quality of electronic medical records data as well as speed access to that data across multiple locations. The goal is to integrate data in different formats and in different physical locations so that physicians can treat patients more efficiently and effectively.
The infrastructure platform will include IBM Power 780 and 740 systems with PowerVM virtualization, IBM System x3650 M3 systems as well as IBM System Storage DS8000 and IBM Storwize V7000 Unified Storage, and will be capable of handling up to 100TB of data.
According to IBM, this system is supporting the hospital’s “SU-III Project” which will result in a single electronic medical record (EMR) system with a single database that can be used by physicians, nurses, lab clinicians and insurance companies. This will enable the hospital to consolidate and manage patient records across their four locations and 2,920 beds, from a central location in Bucheon, improving hospital efficiency while minimizing costs. With the integrated, workload-optimized system, physicians will also be able to work collaboratively with access to a common set of patient data, improving patient care.
By Jane Clabby
We’ve blogged about how healthcare analytics can help improve patient diagnostics and treatment, but another area where analytics can make a huge impact in the healthcare industry in is anti-fraud. Each year healthcare fraud exceeds $250B, according to the FBI.
On March 20, IBM announced new consulting services and software that uses predictive analytics and “big data” to support decision making for the C-suite in three vital areas: Anti-fraud, Waste & Abuse; Next Best Action; and CFO Performance Insight. These solutions are grouped under the family of IBM Smarter Analytics Signature Solutions, and are based on experiences drawn from over 20,000 analytics engagements.
Anti-Fraud, Waste and Abuse uses IBM’s adaptive systems to learn from the latest data, looking for patterns to help protect against emerging fraud. The solution’s advanced algorithms are able to detect fraud in real-time and recommend the most effective remedy for each case. In some cases, information about an individual might suggest that by just sending a letter requesting payment the issue could be resolved, while in other cases, a more in-depth investigation may be needed. This solution can be used in healthcare as well as other insurance areas and also to detect tax fraud.
Next Best Action Smarter Analytics Signature Solution is designed to help organizations get a comprehensive view of a particular customer by analyzing traditional customer data as well as customer sentiment data gathered from social media websites such as Twitter. In this way, customer behavior can be predicted as well as customer preferences. This insight can be used by customer service representatives for “upsell” opportunities, by predicting the “next best action” that is most likely to prompt a consumer purchase.
CFO Performance Insight Smarter Analytics Signature Solution helps collect and correlate a range of financial data—this data can provide a much more comprehensive view of business operations across product lines, helping companies determine which products are the most profitable over time, and how to handle inventory levels and distribution to maximize profit.
By Jane Clabby
IBM and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) announced an agreement to collaborate on developing a decision support tool based on IBM Watson technology that will create individualized diagnosis and treatment recommendations for cancer patients. The tool will combine Watson’s computational power and natural language processing with MSKCC’s clinical knowledge, molecular and genomic data, and database of cancer case histories to support evidence-based medicine.
With cancer-related medical information doubling every five years, and hundreds of cancer sub-types being identified, it is a huge challenge for oncologists to stay current with each cancer type, particularly for physicians in remote areas. This complexity of treatment and diagnosis options lends itself to Watson technology which can process and understand 200 million digital pages and deliver an answer within 3-5 seconds. By leveraging Watson’s ability to ingest, process and analyze volumes of unstructured data, cancer therapy can be personalized —speeding treatment and improving care.
Dr. Larry Norton, Deputy Physician-in-Chief for Breast Cancer Programs Medical Director, describes this evidence-based approach enabled by Watson as going “past intelligence into wisdom.” He believes Watson can function as a “wise counselor” to physicians and that availability of Watson technology represents a revolutionary step that will “change the way we conduct medicine” by moving from opinion-based medicine to evidence-based medicine.
Pilot solutions for lung, breast and prostate cancer will be available to select oncologists in late 2012, with wide distribution expected in late 2013.
An Interview with Ryan Leslie, VP of Analytics and Health Economics
By Jane Clabby
On March 20, I attended IBM’s Smarter Analytics Leadership Summit in New York City. I was pleased to discover that the Client Panel, “Leading with Analytics”, included Ryan Leslie, VP of Analytics and Health Economics at Seton Healthcare. I wrote a blog about Seton Healthcare and Watson about a month ago, and this was a great opportunity to hear more about that project.
Seton Healthcare is using Watson technology to improve patient care and reduce patient readmission rates. According to Leslie, 80% of Seton’s patient data is unstructured, including physician and nurse notes, discharge summaries and case notes. A standard chart review doesn’t reveal any of this information, and in a complex condition such as congestive heart failure which has to be diagnosed early for effective treatment, these details are critical. By using this unstructured data, Seton Healthcare has been able to institute a program that tells them which patients have the most potential for positive outcomes. By revealing patterns in unstructured patient data, they can identify those patients that will benefit most from a particular treatment plan, and avoid costly readmissions.
The most important information, according to Leslie, is garnered by reading between the lines — looking at patient information such as does the patient have access to transportation? Do they have a primary care physician? Do they have a social support system? Answers to these questions can identify risk factors for readmission. Leslie said that through the study, Seton Healthcare had identified another risk factor that frequently led to readmission. During physical examinations, patients were asked to tilt their head so physicians could examine the jugular vein. This simple test revealed vein patterns that were frequently seen in readmitted patients. By using this test rather than expensive array of lab tests, Seton Healthcare is better able to identify at-risk patients at a much lower cost.
By Jane Clabby
In May 2011, HP announced a financial commitment of $25 million over ten years to support a research initiative at Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, ranked one of the nation’s leading pediatric hospitals by U.S. News and World Report. The goal of the collaboration is to improve the safety and quality of care for critically ill patients. In addition to supporting the expansion of the Packard Children’s Hospital, the investment produced a new real-time patient status system that resulted in more targeted care in 1 out of 3 patients in a trial period, HP reported in October 2011.
The Patent-Centered Dashboard collects data from electronic medical records and displays that data electronically, replacing traditional error-prone handwritten whiteboards. The electronic dashboard collects the wealth of data found in the medical record and uses it to generate patient status information. Color-coded lights indicate the urgency of patient treatment so that staff can act proactively to address life-threatening situations in the intensive care unit. The dashboard also improves compliance and will be rolled out in other hospitals as well.
The dashboard is designed to prevent human error which can increase the risk of patient death or unnecessarily prolong a hospital stay. Doctors and nurses can easily review patient status on a daily basis and update patient treatment. Several examples of where the dashboard has helped improve patient care include switching a patient from intravenous to oral medication, removing a catheter when the potential for infection was identified, identifying overdue procedures, and decreasing the use of unnecessary lab tests. These measures not only improve care but they can also reduce costs.
By Jane Clabby
Dr. Craig Saunders offers his thoughts on improving care delivery
Dr. Craig Saunders, Chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Barnabas Health System, offered his thoughts on our healthcare system in a recent interview. He believes a large part of the issue is the disconnect between physicians and hospital administrators. One example he noted is the existence of both a Medicare Part A (geared toward hospitals and medical centers) and a Medicare Part B (geared toward physicians). He went on to say that by working together physicians and hospitals could build something “greater than themselves”, and in the patient’s best interest. With the trend toward physicians being employed by hospitals, the need for closer collaboration is becoming even more critical. The physician, according to Dr. Saunders, should provide the “vision and passion” and the hospital administrators should provide the resources to support that. A successful partnership would be financially responsible on both sides.
Dr. Saunders believes that Watson can play an important role in this closer collaboration and fiscal responsibility. While physicians cannot possibly stay current with medical analysis and peer reviews conducted on a daily basis, Watson can process and analyze huge volumes of information so that actual evidence-based medicine can be practiced. In this way physicians can eliminate “soft data”, provide more targeted diagnoses and treatment and potentially avoid costly legal issues. Having access to specific patient data and history, correlated with volumes of medical research analyzed by Watson also has the potential to offer more preventative and lifestyle-related medical care, and reduce costly end-of-life care (according to Dr. Saunders as much as 80% of medical costs are incurred in a patient’s last year of life).
By Jane Clabby
A Physician from Barnabas Health System Weighs In
Dr. Craig Saunders, Chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Barnabas Health System, shares his thoughts on the problems with our health care system. According to Dr. Saunders, the solution includes leaving politicians out of the equation.
“There is no crisis in the practice of medicine, the crisis is in the business of medicine. Unfortunately money cannot be taken out of the equation; the payers now run Health Care. Politicians, corporations, insurance companies, lawyers and accountants now have more influence on health care than patient consumers and physician providers. Physicians should be chastised for allowing that to happen and for letting their patient advocacy falter.”
“Unfortunately there are probably as many bad physicians as there are bad lawyers but the good ones have to step up and provide the passion and vision for tomorrow’s health care. It won’t look like your grandfather’s health care . . . and it shouldn’t, the only constant is change. Private practice may be a relic of the “cottage industry” phase of medicine but that doesn’t mean an impersonal government or corporation should run health care either. The future of medical care should be based heavily on a collaboration of able and motivated physicians and administrators working together to build quality health care programs with fiscal responsibility. With fiscal responsibility will come sustainability and with the quality will come value.”
“This may all sound theoretical but already excellent examples exist and nothing exists that wasn’t, at one point, theory.”
Stay tuned for future blogs that provide details of our interview with Dr. Saunders.