Connecting medical imaging with patient history through cognitive computing

By | 2 minute read | September 19, 2017

Radiologists spend just one third of their time on image interpretation. For the majority of the day they are either supervising studies, performing image-guided procedures, teaching, in meetings, consulting with physicians, or directly caring for patients. Their work day is dynamic and full of interruptions, making effectiveness in the reading room an ongoing challenge.

Being efficient and productive in the dark room becomes increasingly important when radiologists encounter rare and complicated cases that require knowledge of patient history to complement the evaluation of medical images. This often means searching for patient information by manually sifting through multiple, extensive, disorganized and disconnected EMR records. Moreover, the situation is exacerbated by the fact that approximately 80% of patient data is unstructured (e.g. notes and reports). Reading and understanding this data in order to uncover clinical meaning relevant to the imaging study at hand, disrupts radiologists’ workflow and takes up valuable time. In an age of increasing demands on reading physicians, this is a burden they can hardly afford.


Striving for greater efficiency, relevancy

Radiologists believe more efficiency and relevancy in the reading room will enable them to make confident decisions in a timely manner. Better connections between patient data and imaging study are key to achieving this goal.

Watson Health Imaging aims to support radiologists achieve this goal by providing a patient synopsis tool that can organize patient context during evaluation of medical images. We intend this tool to seamlessly integrate within existing clinical workflow.

Dr. Larry Elgarresta, Vice President of Radiology Associates of South Florida and Medical Director of Outpatient Imaging, Baptist Heath South Florida, is particularly enthusiastic about the potential impact Watson Health Imaging’s patient synopsis tool may have on the field of radiology. As a member of the Watson Health Medical Imaging Collaborative, he has seen the product concept and can envision the future impact.

“Watson Imaging Patient Synopsis is an important step in the right direction. Its cognitive ability strives to present a patient synopsis ‘front sheet’ with the most relevant and critical clinical information while a physician is interpreting images,” he said.

Elgarresta believes a tool such as this, one that strives to organize and present patient data and context in a meaningful way, will enhance productivity in the reading room, enabling a more confident diagnosis. More importantly it will elevate the conversation a radiologist can have with the treating physician, further integrating radiology into overall patient care.

“With this clinical insight easily available, radiologists can make better decisions and become more important consultants to patients’ clinical care team.”



Anticipated future capabilities are aspirational only and represent a vision of a possible future technology, which is not available for any commercial or non-commercial use and has not been evaluated by any regulatory agencies (such as USFDA) for safety, efficacy or performance. The development, release, and timing of any future features or functionality described for our products are subject to change or withdrawal without notice at IBM’s sole discretion.

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