IBM Delves Into Chinese Health Care Market
"All this data can be overwhelming for providers and patients alike, but it also presents an unprecedented opportunity to transform the ways in which we manage our health," said John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president of solutions portfolio and research, at the launch of the Watson Health unit. "We need better ways to tap into and analyze all of this information in real time to benefit patients and to improve wellness globally. Only IBM has the advanced cognitive capabilities of Watson and can pull together the vast ecosystem of partners, practitioners and researchers needed to drive change, as well as to provide the open, secure and scalable platform needed to make it all possible." The initial version of Watson for Oncology available in China will be in English only. However, Hangzhou CognitiveCare will provide translation assistance for various Chinese dialects. "Watson's ability to parse huge volumes of information and to be queried by and provide results to a variety of users makes it a good fit for complex healthcare organizations," King said. "Leveraging the LinuxONE mainframe as a cloud-based platform for large-scale healthcare management is also sensible when you consider the platform's inherent security and transactional capabilities." Cancer is on the rise in China, and is the leading cause of death among China's population of 1.4 billion, IBM said. In 2015 alone there were 4.3 million new cancer cases and more than 2.8 million cancer deaths in China, according to the company."Watson has the power to transform how doctors battle cancer in China and around the world, providing physicians with insights regarding treatment options that help them customize therapeutic recommendations specific to each individual, based on a patient's specific needs," said Zhen Tu, CEO of Hangzhou Cognitive Care, in a statement. "Health care in China is transforming at a rapid pace but the world's most populous country faces numerous challenges as it struggles to cope with a precipitous rise in cancer and other diseases," noted Nancy Fabozzi, principal analyst of Transformational Health at Frost & Sullivan. King said he believes IBM also may be attracted by management and decision-making processes of the Chinese government. "A few years back, China's government decided to systematically implement EHR [electronic health records] for its entire population," King said. "Compare that to the U.S., where EHR and other digital health care initiatives are rolled out according to the whims of medical insurance providers, HMOs, private and public hospitals, doctors, state legislatures and the federal government. The result is akin to a clown car that, while continuing to move forward, often appears headed toward certain doom. In comparison, China's approach must seem positively restful."
Watson for Oncology is based on a variety of sources, including oncology expertise from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. It also draws from more than 300 medical journals, 200 textbooks and nearly 15 million pages of text that have all been fed into the Watson platform.