IBM Watson Inspires New Effort to Link Health Care Data, Mobile EHRs

IBM is expanding its Analytics Solution Center in Dallas and will use Watson-like technology to allow medical researchers to transfer medical data from documents into mobile devices.

IBM has announced an expansion of its Analytics Solutions Center, in Dallas, to connect medical data to mobile EHRs using natural-language processing and technology similar to that used with its Watson supercomputer.

As part of the center's expansion, IBM will incorporate Watson-like analytics capabilities along with clinical voice recognition from Nuance Communications to link with EHRs on smartphones using voice or text.

Watson was recently featured on the "Jeopardy" game show.

With analytics capabilities like that of Watson, health care organizations will be able to understand large amounts of data and enable better coordinate care and measure clinician performance.

Analytics will allow physicians and researchers to pull meaning and context from human speech and answer complex questions by sifting through millions of books, encyclopedia, periodicals, medical notes, exams and pathology reports. Physicians will be able to access data on patient conditions deep in these documents and make more informed decisions on patient treatment.

Workers at the analytics center can recite data from sensors, medical instruments and patient monitoring systems into EHRs on mobile devices.

A government push toward accountable care models rather than "fee for service" has led to a greater interest in health analytics, according to IBM.

The Department of Health & Human Services is offering incentives to groups of health care providers for Medicare patients' positive health outcomes.

Meanwhile, the analytics center will expand its work in helping hospitals monitor patients remotely from home after they've been discharged using various mobile devices.

Caregivers help patients take readings on temperature, blood pressure and pulse in real time using Bluetooth-enabled smartphones.

IBM, which celebrates its centennial this year, is making a greater investment in health analytics as the amount of data from providers is expected to reach 14,000 petabytes by 2015. The analytics center opened in 2009 and has worked with more than 150 hospitals, health plans and other health care organizations.

More than four out of five CIOs (83 percent) see business intelligence and analytics as top priorities for their businesses, according to a recent IBM CIO Study. In addition, 87 percent of CIOs in health care are using analytics compared with 69 percent of other CIOs.

IBM announced the expansion of its Dallas analytics facility on May 26. It had opened an Analytics Data Center in Washington, D.C., in November 2009.

In March the company announced that BJC Healthcare in St. Louis and Washington University School of Medicine Center for Biometrics will use its IBM Content Analytics software to help researchers extract unstructured medical data from 50 million documents.

Health care data is growing at 35 percent a year, according to a recent report by Enterprise Strategy Group.

In other health care analytics news, GE Healthcare and Thomson Reuters have announced a deal to link claims data from Reuters' MarketScan Research Databases with electronic health records data from GE to better understand how treatment methods affect different types of patients.