Wellpoint to Bankroll Use of IBM Watson at Cedar Sinai Medical Center to Research Cancer Data/Information To Provide Guidance fo
Posted Dec 17 2011 9:35pm
After having made their initial investment with IBM, Wellpoint is looking for areas to use the new “big data” capabilities for processing information. This could be a good thing here as long as you leave the billing side out of all of this as that’ a mess right now with ICD10 coding coming up. For quick research and clinical information this could work ok but there is questionable information today too in some of the medical journals and the article states journals will be included here as well. Hopefully I think we have more credible data in journals rather than the opposite. More so than Cedars I still think our Congress needs this capability to gather and sort information to make laws. The US is the only country that ties ICD codes to billing so our Health IT issues are much more complicated than other countries.
But as in our usual style on the Hill, it appears they did not recognize a tool when they saw one. At least they should rent out some computing space from the DOE.
Again I mention the revenue cycling part of this should be left out for down the road and when used for clinical research this could be a tool but the doctors seeing patients are the real judges here. Machine learning is moving ahead and again even with this technology, it can still be garbage in and out. I just wrote the next chapter in the Attack of the Killer Algorithms and the emphasis there was on “flawed data” and that is the only real danger here with using machine learning beyond clinical research. Some states have even put governors in their software to block the automated data mining services on the web. With machine learning we always run some risk of “rogue algorithms” too, happens all the time on the stock market so again something to be aware of with writing the unreadable with data base upon data base now aggregated and joined at the hip to ensure “accurate” data is in fact contained.
We have some who believe that an algorithm can predict cardiac arrests and there might be some use here but when people begin to rely 100% on this predictive behavior analytics, we are in trouble as event he Netflix algo that determines what you will like is only 60% accurate.
Again if used properly this could be a good tool for doctors to find treatments and therapies they might otherwise over look I am guessing, but when it goes beyond into the payables area, trouble will follow. We can start naming our own healthcare algorithms, like the “ICD shuffler, the surgeon’s knife or maybe CPT Chaos”, and so on <grin>. Who knows, will this expense get rolled into the Wellpoint medical loss ratio budget?
Again, this is a noble move as described here for research but out dead heads in Washington should wake up a see this as a tool to query when it hits them in the face. Even at some of the big facilities like Cedars, clinical care is being cut in the mental health area due to budgets, etc. so I guess this is also good incentive to help keep insurers in the door as we are now starting to see more big companies negotiate direct contract with leading hospitals too for certain types of procedures as did Johns Hopkins and Pepsi this week. BD
Doctors at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute will be the first to use the technology, IBM said, and they will help the computer company make tweaks to the system — the first commercial application of the computer since its "Jeopardy!" debut early this year. Watson, which can process information from 200 million pages of literature in three seconds, will provide doctors with guidance on diagnoses and treatments, IBM says. The hope is that the technology will be able to comb through patient medical histories, medical journals and clinical trials to provide appropriate treatments, said Manoj Saxena, general manager of IBM's Watson Solutions unit. IBM is looking to expand the use of the supercomputer, roughly the size of a refrigerator, to other industries, including banking and telecommunications. "I don't see Watson taking the place of a doctor," said Dr. William Audeh, head of the Oschin institute, "but I do see it acting as a super library for a doctor."
The project with Cedars is bankrolled by Indianapolis-based insurance giant WellPoint, parent company of Anthem Blue Cross. Anthem is the state's largest for-profit health insurer.