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Watson combs through your records to find hidden diseases

WatsonLAS VEGAS – At the latest HIMSS conference, IBM’s Watson Health showed the work it is doing on several projects. One of them, code-named Iaso, is looking through the medical records of patients to discover which conditions were unreported. When the unreported pieces are put together, they can paint a picture of a serious condition – like an aneurysm.

Radiologists or cardiologists, when looking for specific conditions in diagnostic images, may not report ancillary problems. Or they might simply miss them.

“Unfortunately, this happens more than you might think,” said Dr. Tanveer Syeda-Mahmood, Senior Manager and the Chief Scientist for the Medical Sieve Radiology Grand Challenge project in IBM Research.

Iaso, however, can spot these conditions in records and images, and can then create a more comprehensive report.

Dr. Syeda-Mahmood said that Iaso is a “cross-patient insight tool,” meaning that it can look at a variety of departmental tests and records to find key pieces of data that may not have been included in official reports. It can then analyze the data to find patterns pointing to a hidden disease.

Right now, it’s a work-in-progress, but IBM plans to soon apply for regulatory approvals in the U.S.

Another Watson project, code-named Qibo, can act as a physician’s assistant by automatically combing through diagnostic images and records to produce a summary of the most important pieces of information.

This task is sometimes assigned to residents, and it may take 15 minutes or more to compile. Qibo, by contrast, can do it in seconds.

The system ties into the patient records to present related health information, such as the patient’s history in labs, pap tests, cardiac enzymes and other important test results and data.

“It acts like a smart assistant,” said Syeda-Mahmood, who noted that Qibo is designed especially for radiologists and cardiologists. It extracts structured and unstructured reports, and can use pattern analysis on numerous types of imaging studies, such as echocardiograms and CT scans.

Iaso and Qibo are meant to be used as tools in the hands of physicians. They are not designed to replace physicians, but rather, to enhance the accuracy and speed of the physician’s work.

“If I had a serious illness, I’d always want a doctor looking after me, with Watson as an assistant,” said Robert Merkel, Healthcare & Life Sciences Leader within IBM Watson Group.

IBM last year announced that it is acquiring Merge Healthcare, a leading provider of medical imaging systems for roughly $1 billion.

The company plans to integrate Merge Healthcare’s capabilities with the Watson high performance computing and analytics platform, an artificial intelligence system capable of answering questions posed in natural language.

In February, IBM announced it will acquire Truven Health Analytics for $2.6 billion. Truven is a leading provider of cloud-based healthcare data, analytics and insights, and brings 200 million “lives”, or patient records, to Watson Health.

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1 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    April 01, 2016

    An effective technological response to achieving accurate diagnosis where traditional referral requisitions have limited clinical information and fragmented image types and reports are not synthesized easily. Having heard patient stories around their diagnostic path and trajectory through 20+ years of Radiology nursing and research venues…..this is very exciting!

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