IBM Expands U.S. Federal Healthcare Practice

IBM announced it will be using its big data and Watson cognitive computing technology in its federal health care practice.

IBM announced that its U.S. Federal Healthcare Practice will be applying its Watson cognitive computing technology to help solve health care problems.

IBM has made new investments in its health care organization to address the rapidly growing technology needs of public-sector health institutions. Big Blue added big data solutions for advanced clinical care from its IBM Watson Group, new collaborations with IBM Research focused on data management and an expansion of the team with the naming of a chief medical information officer for IBM's U.S. health care practice.

"IBM has a proven track record in delivering transformational, value-based health care solutions that can increase the quality of care and lower costs in both the public and private sectors," Anne Altman, general manager of IBM US Federal, said in a statement. "Government leaders recognize that there is a tremendous opportunity to combine new and existing data sources with advancements in technology to find innovative ways to build a sustainable and affordable health care system."

IBM said it will be employing Watson cloud-delivered solutions to the federal health care practice, including the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor to transform interactions and experiences with patients; the IBM Watson Discovery Advisor to uncover insights into diseases and innovative therapies and speed medical research; and the IBM Watson Explorer designed to consolidate and visualize information and help users uncover and share data-driven insights more easily.

IBM's big data and cognitive computing solutions will help federal health care customers aggregate and analyze clinical information to improve care and reduce costs. Improving health outcomes, controlling costs and achieving a value-based, affordable and sustainable health care system have become economic and social imperatives for governments around the world.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. government is expected to spend $13.95 trillion on major health care-related operations and programs through 2024. To address rising rates of chronic disease and reduce spending, health systems today face greater expectations for improved health outcomes and higher quality care.

Adding to the big data solutions available to the federal health care group, IBM is providing its IBM Advanced Care Insights solution to support health care providers with new insights from clinical, social and behavioral data. The solution bundle uses IBM content analytics and natural language processing (NLP) to extract valuable insight from physician notes, lab results and other narrative content within leading electronic health record (EHR) systems to transform it into actionable information.

For example, at Carilion Clinic, a Virginia health system, IBM has reviewed more than 2 million patient encounters in collaboration with Epic and Carilion Clinic. After applying the Advanced Care Insights solution to these records, they identified 8,500 patients at risk for developing congestive heart failure; the pilot project could lead to early intervention and better care for these patients.

The results were achieved through predictive modeling of data in Carilion Clinic's electronic health records, including unstructured data such as clinicians' notes and discharge documents that are not often analyzed. The pilot applied content analytics and predictive modeling to identify at-risk patients with an 85 percent accuracy rate. Many of these patients might benefit from targeted preventive care.

IBM's health care team includes more than 300 federal consultants and dozens of doctors and health professionals who are focused on care systems transformation. This team supports IBM's Federal Healthcare Practice, which is led by Vice President Giovanna Patterson.

IBM announced that it has added Keith Salzman, M.D., to the team as chief medical information officer for IBM Federal. Dr. Salzman brings more than two decades of experience in delivering quality care to patients and driving the use of medical informatics within the U.S. Department of Defense military health system, located at the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash. Earlier this year, Dr. Salzman received the 2013 Physician IT Leadership Award from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, a global network of health IT professionals.

IBM works with hospitals, health systems and life science companies to create smarter, more connected health care systems. IBM's technologies and consulting services help organizations deliver better care with fewer mistakes, predict and prevent diseases, speed up medical discovery and help people make better choices. Big data innovations such as IBM Watson and "stream" computing" are being used to improve patient outcomes for more personalized and patient-centric care.

IBM has a 75-year history of working with clinicians, researchers and public health organizations to help improve patient care. In 1961, IBM created the first electronic health record system at Akron Children's Hospital; the system was built on IBM's Ramac 305.

Recently, IBM has partnered with a range of organizations to apply Watson in ways that are helping transform how medicine is practiced, paid for and taught. For example, IBM is co-developing an application with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and partnering with WellPoint, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University.