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Posts Tagged ‘healthcare

Healthier Hong Kong

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I’ve been too busy to keep an eye out for Norad Santa this year, but for those of you with children out there, you’ll be happy to know you can now track Santa via the NORAD Tracks Santa app, available for both Android and the iPhone.

For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s flight. The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations "hotline." The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.

It’s good to know that Santa’s multi-platform!

If, on the other hand, you’re all about tracking leading healthcare providers, look now towards Hong Kong-based Quality HealthCare Medical Services (QMHS), which partnered today with IBM to build a virtualized infrastructure for its practice.

The project involves the consolidation of more than 100 servers into a cloud environment that hosts QHMS’ mission critical systems that serve over 600 medical centers in Hong Kong and Macau.

The optimized infrastructure will enable QHMS to reduce IT maintenance and disaster recovery costs, ensure production system maintainability and performance, and achieve energy-savings.

By reducing the number of physical servers from over 100 to eight IBM System x3650 servers and centralizing storage, QHMS is expected to reduce IT operational costs by 25 percent and software license and related maintenance costs by 23 percent.

The new and highly redundant server infrastructure also includes an automated centralized back-up system of IBM System Storage DS3500 Express that enables fast, secure and cost-effective storage management, back up and recovery.

“We are always looking for ways to further improve the patient experience. Our new cloud allows us to deliver information to our doctors faster and in a more reliable way,” said Elaine Chu, Chief Operating Officer of QHMS. “As a result, we will be able to serve our patients more effectively and with higher levels of care. It is very exciting to see how we can make a difference to our patients with the help of technology.”

Additionally, the deployment of the IBM Cognos Business Intelligence solution provides financial key performance indicator (KPI) and analysis, creating the opportunity to gain more timely business information for better business performance management and smarter decision-making.

QHMS aims to monitor business performance in over 600 medical centers. With IBM Cognos BI, QHMS can build a standardized and centralized information delivery platform that enables QHMS to monitor the performance of a wide range of services running on different systems.

QHMS’ management team can now access timely business information with just a few mouse clicks, speeding response times to business needs and patient demands.

About Quality HealthCare
Quality HealthCare Medical Services Limited is a physician led provider group offering an integrated range of healthcare services including facilities management, third party plan administration and paramedical support. The Group provides care for private and corporate contract patients through a network of more than 580 Western and Chinese medical centers, and 47 dental and physiotherapy centers.

In 2010, its network recorded more than 2.8 million healthcare visits. It also operates Hong Kong’s longest-established nursing agency and one of its medical practices has been serving Hong Kong people for over 140 years.

Putting Watson To Work In Healthcare

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If you’ve been wondering whether our IBM intelligent Q&A technology Watson (no relation) was going to ever go out and get a real job, you need wait no longer.

Just as the Watson v. Jeopardy contest is set to start being rebroadcast here in North America this very day, IBM and Wellpoint announced an agreement today to create the first commercial applications of the IBM Watson technology.

WellPoint is the nation’s largest health benefits company in terms of medical membership, with 34 million members in its affiliated health plans, and a total of more than 70 million individuals served through its subsidiaries.

Under the agreement, Wellpoint will develop and launch Watson-based solutions to help improve patient care through the delivery of up-to-date, evidence-based health care for millions of Americans.

IBM will develop the foundational Watson healthcare technology on which WellPoint’s solution will run.

What Is Watson?

Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, is a computing system built by a team of IBM scientists who set out to accomplish a grand challenge –- build a computing system that rivals a human’s ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence.

Earlier this year, Watson competed and won against two of the most celebrated players ever to appear on Jeopardy!. This historic match is being rebroadcast over three days, starting today.

Watson’s ability to analyze the meaning and context of human language, and quickly process vast amounts of information to suggest options targeted to a patient’s circumstances, can assist decision makers, such as physicians and nurses, in identifying the most likely diagnosis and treatment options for their patients.

In recent years, few areas have advanced as rapidly as health care. For physicians, incorporating hundreds of thousands of articles into practice and applying them to patient care is a significant challenge.

Watson can sift through an equivalent of about 1 million books or roughly 200 million pages of data, and analyze this information and provide precise responses in less than three seconds.

Watson: Helping Doctors With Their Diagnostics

Using this extraordinary capability WellPoint is expected to enable Watson to allow physicians to easily coordinate medical data programmed into Watson with specified patient factors, to help identify the most likely diagnosis and treatment options in complex cases. Watson is expected to serve as a powerful tool in the physician’s decision making process.

Medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, chronic heart or kidney disease are incredibly intricate. New solutions incorporating Watson are being developed to have the ability to look at massive amounts of medical literature, population health data, and even a patient’s health record, in compliance with applicable privacy and security laws, to answer profoundly complex questions.

For example, we envision that new applications will allow physicians to use Watson to consult patient medical histories, recent test results, recommended treatment protocols and the latest research findings loaded into Watson to discuss the best and most effective courses of treatment with their patients.

“There are breathtaking advances in medical science and clinical knowledge, however; this clinical information is not always used in the care of patients. Imagine having the ability to take in all the information around a patient’s medical care — symptoms, findings, patient interviews and diagnostic studies. Then, imagine using Watson analytic capabilities to consider all of the prior cases, the state-of-the-art clinical knowledge in the medical literature and clinical best practices to help a physician advance a diagnosis and guide a course of treatment,” said Sam Nussbaum, M.D., WellPoint’s Chief Medical Officer.

“We believe this will be an invaluable resource for our partnering physicians and will dramatically enhance the quality and effectiveness of medical care they deliver to our members.”

Watson may help physicians identify treatment options that balance the interactions of various drugs and narrow among a large group of treatment choices, enabling physicians to quickly select the more effective treatment plans for their patients.

It is also expected to streamline communication between a patient’s physician and their health plan, helping to improve efficiency in clinical review of complex cases. It could even be used to direct patients to the physician in their area with the best success in treating a particular illness.

Depending on the progress of the development efforts, WellPoint anticipates employing Watson technology in early 2012, working with select physician groups in clinical pilots.

You can visit here to learn more about the IBM Watson technology.

Written by turbotodd

September 12, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Calling Dr. Watson

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What’s Next for Watson?

So now that the matches have all aired, and Watson came out the victor, what does it all mean?

If you missed the hullaballoo, this week, IBM’s Watson computer system competed against Jeopardy!’s most successful contestants, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, and ended up running away with victory.

But as amazing as the win was, what hasn’t been celebrated nearly enough in this blogger’s opinion is the practical applications of this technology to solve real problems in the world moving forward across a wide range of industries.

Watson was built by a dedicated team of brilliant IBM Research scientists over the past four years, and represents a breakthrough innovation: a machine that rivals a human’s ability to answer questions posed in natural language – quickly, accurately, confidently.

We saw this demonstrated in full force during the Jeopardy! matches this week.

But today begins the next phase of Watson’s evolution.

Calling Doctor Watson

Today, IBM is announcing that doctors from Columbia University Medical Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine will work to take the same Jeopardy! playing capabilities of Watson and apply them to medicine in an effort to address some of the healthcare industry’s biggest challenges.

IBM also announced a research agreement with Nuance Communications, Inc., to explore, develop, and apply the Watson computing system to healthcare.

Consider these statistics: Primary care physicians spend an average of only 10.7-18.7 minutes face-to-face with each patient per visit. And approximately 81% average 5 hours or less per month – just over an hour per week – reading medical journals.

This results in an estimated 15% of diagnoses being inaccurate or incomplete.

In today’s healthcare environment, where doctors are often working with limited information and little time, the results can be fragmented care and errors that raise costs and threaten quality.

What doctors need is an assistant who can quickly read and understand massive amounts of information and then provide useful suggestions.

Watson’s ability to deal with natural language across a wide collection of diverse information and make it more digestible for humans holds an enormous potential to transform healthcare effectiveness, efficiency and patient outcomes.

Answer: What Is Watson?

Many have probably wondered through the course of the Jeopardy! matches what, exactly is Watson?

Think of Watson as an analytical computing system that specializes in understanding the meaning of natural human language and provides specific answers to questions across a broad domain of knowledge at lightning speeds.

Those domains could span virtually every industry: as noted already in this post, healthcare, but also media/entertainment, financial services, the public sector, transportation, and more.

Watson’s breakthrough comes in its understanding of natural language, not simply language specifically designed and encoded for computers.  But, rather, language we humans use to naturally capture and communicate knowledge.

Watson evaluates the equivalent of roughly 200 million pages of content (about 1 million books worth) written in natural human language to find correct responses to the Jeopardy! clues.

The system was named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, and is powered by 10 racks of IBM POWER 750 servers and runs on the LINUX operating system. Watson contains 15 terabytes of RAM and 2,880 processor cores, and can operate at 80 teraflops – 80 trillion operations per second.

Yes, you read that correctly.  80 trillion.  And yes, I, too, wish I could have that kind of horsepower on my laptop.

Getting A Second Opinion With Watson

As the leading company that helps businesses make sense of data, IBM created Watson to advance our ability to find meaning and knowledge in vast amounts of data.

Watson’s ability to understand the meaning and context of human language, and rapidly process information to find precise answers to questions, holds enormous potential to transform how computers help people accomplish tasks in business and their personal lives.

The fact is, no matter how doctors may try to keep up with the medical literature, it doubles in size every few years and the task of incorporating hundreds of thousands of articles a day into practice and applying them to patient care is difficult and impractical.

Diagnosis, treatment and management of diseases are phenomenally complicated.  For any given chronic disease, there are all sorts of nuances.  One size doesn’t fit all.

Patients with problems like cancer, diabetes, chronic heart or kidney disease are incredibly complex. But much of that is computable. Watson will be able to look at all that and answer profoundly complex questions by analyzing massive amounts of health data and healthcare knowledge.

Doctors understandably tend to diagnose based on their own specialties or experience. A computer system like Watson can also suggest questions that raise alternatives. For instance, doctors may focus on physical issues and forget to investigate whether symptoms could be caused by depression.

It can narrow among a large group of choices and ultimately help doctors pick the right decision — a very necessary advance in the effective and efficient storage, retrieval, analysis and use of biomedical information to improve health.

IBM calls this Deep DDX – deep differential diagnosis.

Now, lest you have fears that R2D2 will start making the rounds, you’re never going to replace a doctor or a nurse.  But, like a good surgical’s assistant, Watson can help inform and advise physicians by creating many hypotheses about a condition then narrowing them down to the one it feels most confident about based on symptoms of the patient, combined with all the information it has received from medical journals, text books, and the like.

Deep QA At Columbia And Maryland

The new research and technology initiative with Nuance will combine IBM’s Deep Question Answering (QA), Natural Language Processing, and Machine Learning capabilities with Nuance’s speech recognition and Clinical Language Understanding (CLU) solutions for the diagnosis and treatment of patients that provide hospitals, physicians, and payers access to critical and timely information.

At Columbia and Maryland School of Medicine, physicians will help identify critical issues in the practice of medicine where the Watson technology may be able to contribute, and to help identify the best way that a technology like Watson could interact with medical practitioners to provide maximum assistance.

Watson’s ability to analyze the meaning and context of human language, and quickly process information to find precise answers can assist decision makers, such as physicians and nurses, unlock important knowledge and facts buried within huge volumes of information, and offer answers they may not have considered to help validate their own ideas or hypotheses.

“Combining our analytics expertise with the experience and technology of Nuance, we can transform the way that healthcare professionals accomplish everyday tasks by enabling them to work smarter and more efficiently,”  said Dr. John E. Kelly III, senior vice president and director of IBM Research. “This initiative demonstrates how we plan to apply Watson’s capabilities into new areas, such as healthcare with Nuance.”

For example, a doctor considering a patient’s diagnosis could use Watson’s analytics technology, in conjunction with Nuance’s voice and clinical language understanding solutions, to rapidly consider all the related texts, reference materials, prior cases, and latest knowledge in journals and medical literature to gain evidence from many more potential sources than previously possible.

You don’t want your doctor to guess.  You want them to have confidence in their answers.

Built into Watson is the idea of confidence in answering. It’s the doctor’s responsibility to make the diagnoses…Watson would only be there to narrow down the options.

As for Watson’s bedside manners…well, on that one we’ll just have to wait and see.

Written by turbotodd

February 17, 2011 at 3:02 pm

IBM to Acquire Initiate Systems

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IBM announced today it signed a definitive agreement to acquire Initiate Systems, a market leader in data integrity software for information sharing among healthcare and government organizations.

Financial details were not disclosed.

This deal advances IBM’s continued juggernaut in the business analytics and optimization arena, this time with a focus on helping healthcare organizations and governments around the globe by helping ensure the delivery of trusted and accurate information.

Healthcare  providers are facing a huge challenge — integrating accurate information from hundreds of sources. This information is spread across hospitals, doctors’ offices and healthcare providers hindering proper patient care and raising medical costs.

Hospitals, integrated delivery networks, insurers and governments, all have been seeking to create systems that share a consistent view of all critical information as a means of improving both patient health and efficiency.

Initiate’s software has helped bring together data from separate systems managed by hospitals, doctors’ offices and payers at more than 2,400 healthcare sites and over 40 health information exchanges, and government health systems around the world including CVS/Caremark,  Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Initiate’s technology also helps speed the adoption and exchange of electronic medical records, and in the public sector, helps provide government agencies access to pertinent information across multiple systems.

Healthcare and life sciences are a multi-billion dollar business for IBM, which has worked on more than 3,000 healthcare transformation initiatives ranging from small hospitals to national healthcare projects.  IBM has more than 4,000 employees dedicated to healthcare and a network of more than 1,800 business partners.

This is IBM’s 30th acquisition aimed at advancing its ability to help clients – in this case the healthcare and government sectors – use information and business analytics to better serve the public.

Since 2005, IBM has invested $10 billion in 14 other strategic acquisitions to build its business analytics portfolio.

Written by turbotodd

February 3, 2010 at 2:36 pm

IBM Launches Health Analytics Center in Dallas

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As part of its continued investment in the business analytics space, IBM announced yesterday the launch of its Health Analytics Solution Center, another in a network of global centers addressing the growing demand for advanced analytics.

The IBM Global Solution Center in Dallas is intended to help hospitals and medical staff improve decision-making and provide higher quality care, and will employ more than 100 health analytics experts, technical architects and specialists, with access to hundreds more health industry experts from across IBM.

This will be the first center of its kind to address the need for advanced analytics across the health care industry, taking advantage of increased computing power to collect and analyze data streaming in from sensors, patient monitoring systems, medical instruments, and handheld devices, not to mention the volumes of data generated by hospitals every hour.

This data can be used to bring a new level of intelligence to health care to help doctors, nurses, and medical staffs tackle complex problems such as disease management, patient population studies, and the like.

The IBM Health Analytics Center is part of a business strategy recently detailed by IBM as the company expands its capabilities around business analytics.

IBM is also opening six other analytics solution centers in Berlin, Beijing, Tokyo, New York City, London, and Washington, D.C., and as part of this initiative, expects to retrain or hire as many as 4,000 new analytics consultants and professionals globally.

Written by turbotodd

November 4, 2009 at 2:42 pm

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