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IBM Watson Health & Partners Tackle AI, Cognitive in Healthcare

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HIMSS17 – Deriving greater value in healthcare is a perennial topic for anyone focused on digital health solutions that support patient-centered care. And when it comes to the migration toward value-based care, that train has long left the station. This was the overriding theme during an IBM Watson Health’s panel discussion during last month’s HIMSS17 conference in Orlando. But, as many on the panel agreed, the journey is far from over.

“It’s a 20-year journey we’re on,” said Deborah DiSanzo, General Manager, IBM Watson Health, who kicked off and lead the discussion. “Though we’re making an incredible difference today.” It’s a theme echoed by IBM CEO, Ginni Rometty, during her HIMSS17 keynote. The following are excerpts from the panel discussion.

Panel Perspectives

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Joe Reilly CIO, Central New York Care Collaborative (CNYCC)

For Reilly, partnering and coming together for the common good continue to grow in importance. “Our mutual success depends on collaboration,” he said. “Value-based payments are forcing entities and organizations that wouldn’t necessarily work together to come to the same table.”

As part of that, connectivity and integration should be priorities. CNYCC’s more than 2,000 healthcare and community based providers have over 40 electronic medical record (EMR) systems between them. Connecting these disparate systems to better serve the state’s Medicaid population is essential for patient-centered care, which IBM Watson Health and CNYCC’s are working together on to make a reality, as announced this week.  In order for patients to truly be at the center, however, Reilly highlighted the importance of understanding patients’ motivations. He also stressed the need to have a shared, collaborative tool that ensures the entire care team is in the know across the board – one that takes into account social determinants of health and behavioral health data.


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Sue Schade Principal, StarBridge Advisors, former CIO, University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Systems

Like Reilly, Schade stressed the need for collaboration, especially given the evolving health IT C-Suite. Chief Digital Officer, Data Officer and Analytics Officer are just a few titles that have gone from novel to normal in the past few years. But as Schade noted, at many organizations, the CIO is wearing all of those hats – and trying to focus on far more than just electronic health record (EHR) integration and keeping the data center running. “I don’t think there’s an IT shop that doesn’t want to do ‘the new,” she said.



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Joe Kimura CIO, Atrius Health

For Kimura, a new definition of ‘value’ is emerging that pertains to care quality and patient outcomes. “Value today is different than value in the ‘80’s,” he said. “[Today], there’s a lot more accountability attached to it.” And in a value-based world, part of the equation must focus on improving the physician-patient experience to meet new quality benchmarks. Kimura also discussed the amount and the impact of machine-generated data that exists in healthcare today. “What does this data mean, and how do we use it effectively rather than doing entertainment analytics,” he asked. Data, he added, needs to be valuable to providers and patients.

Kimura shared that cognitive tools are fast becoming a necessity for personalized medicine. “With the mountain of information that exists, it’s almost impossible to digest it as an individual human being,” he said. “You need assistance to be able to make sense of that genomic information.”

Whether it’s a population health management platform, precision medicine application and any number of cognitive-based technologies, the panel overwhelmingly agreed that the patient is the priority and technology must be designed around their needs.

“Even if you don’t have a platform, exchange the information so that you can improve quality of care and safety of care across the spectrum,” Kimura said. “Let us compete on better quality of care, better experience of care and better coordination of care, rather than ‘I have more data than you.”


For more insights from HIMSS17 and Ginni Rometty’s keynote presentation,  visit here.

Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, IBM Watson Health

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