December 1, 2015 | Written by: Paul Richards
Categorized: Cognitive Computing | Healthcare
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As Cognitive Computing continues to make headlines globally and be a focus of many industries we continue our look at its potential impacts in the Healthcare industry, we present the third part of our Q&A series of interviews following the release of the IBV paper: “A booster shot for health and wellness: Your cognitive future in the healthcare industry”.
Here we speak to Paul Richards (Executive Partner, IBM Healthcare) on his opinion on what Cognitive Computing means for IBM’s Healthcare clients and for the Healthcare industry in general.
Q. What is the general industry feel towards Cognitive computing within the Healthcare industry, and amongst IBM Healthcare clients?
A. There is a lot of excitement in the Healthcare market regarding the prospect of what Cognitive Computing can bring to the Industry. Healthcare practitioners are excited by Cognitive Computing but are still working out the extent to which it can help them as individuals and organisations. In the right context Cognitive Computing can be extremely powerful; helping researchers find cures and solutions to life-threatening disease as well has helping prioritise resources.
However clinicians and researchers need help and solutions with embedded Cognitive Computing functionality to help them practically apply the potential this can bring. The industry could benefit from working with companies such as IBM in understanding the applications of Cognitive Computing and how it can be best implemented for their own situation and requirements.
Q. Are the IBM Healthcare clients in a position to / enthusiastic to embrace Cognitive Computing?
A. Many researchers and specialists in the Healthcare industry are already in a position to visualise the application and potential uses of cognitive computing, particularly those that face challenges due to the fast pace of research development. However, everyday clinical practitioners in hospital and primary care environments are dependent upon solution developers and will struggle to find use until everyday systems are adapted to fully exploit Cognitive Computing.
Q. Cognitive computing is often described as being able to outperform humans in many areas – how does this make IBM’s Healthcare clients feel?
A. I don’t think that clinicians feel concerned about technology outperforming them. Cognitive Computing is an enabling solution that will fast forward research and thinking and is a mechanism to arrive at diagnostic solutions more quickly. It helps clinicians develop their own thinking and solutions faster and can truly empower them to reach conclusions faster. It also can cut the costs of research within the industry.
Q. Are IBM’s Healthcare clients prepared for the change to Cognitive healthcare?
A. IBM’s Healthcare clients are typically innovative and at the top of their chosen specialty but this is a new technology and there is still a lack of understanding as to how these new systems can make a real difference to the way the industry works. As we form relationships with clients and build an understanding, we can show them how solutions incorporating Watson, can be developed and implemented to help them with their work. For example we can help clinicians tailor regimes of care to the specific detailed circumstances of their patient, beyond what is possible today. Clinical specialists will then be able to become empowered by information and analytics
Q. What is IBM doing to engage Healthcare clients and the industry in regards to Cognitive Computing?
A. At IBM, we have developed Cognitive Value assessments to enable Healthcare clients to develop a better understanding for the technology and the value that the Cognitive Systems can add to their enterprises. This is a low cost and simple way to visualise the Cognitive Computing possibilities and see how they can be applied.
Q. How do you see IBM’s position in this area compared to our competitors?
A. IBM is leading the way in terms of its Cognitive Computing approach. From the very top tier management, IBM has placed a focus on the level of investment within Healthcare. This has enabled us to define and re-imagine the possibilities of Cognitive Computing. We are already implementing systems in a variety of Healthcare settings and working with our rich customer base to innovate and to discover the potential of Watson.
Q. What are the main challenges faced by IBM’s clients in implementing Cognitive Computing systems?
A. The main challenge is the notion that Cognitive Computing may be a quick fix solution as it is necessary to prepare the way and to train systems using source materials and data. Therefore solutions must be tailored and created to meet specific situations and manufacturers must learn how to both build Cognitive Computing components into existing systems and create new functionality that can be used by the mass market.
Q. How can IBM improve the insufficient skill base that is identified as the challenge for the Healthcare Industry when moving to Cognitive Computing?
A. Watson is the perfect example of how the Healthcare skill base can benefit from utilising IBM’s capabilities in Cognitive Computing. It can enable organisations and individuals to be able to make advanced, sophisticated clinical decisions supported by all the key data using the latest information and analytics that goes beyond what an individual can know and take into account.
Q. The paper highlights a ‘gap between data quantity and data insights’ – Do you have any clients where they had ‘too much data and too little insight’?
A. There is definitely no worry of lack of data within the Healthcare industry; with a wealth of papers, research and journals at its disposal. However the difficulty for physicians is understanding what information is the most relevant and what is the most authoritative source for their research. Cognitive Computing can help hone in on applicable data and create usable information and diagnostics in context of a particular patient using information ranging from their symptoms, to their lifestyle, background, co-morbidities, current medication etc. By comparing and contrasting this information, doctors can use the systems to find the most efficient way to deliver a treatment plan.