Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia Plans to Put IBM’s Watson to Work in Health Care
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia’s parent company and IBM have announced an agreement to create the first commercial applications that utilize IBM Watson technology to help improve the delivery of quality, evidence-based health care. Watson is a computing system with the ability to analyze the meaning and context of human language, and quickly process vast amounts of information. We are developing Watson to assist providers in identifying the most effective courses of treatment for their patients.
In recent years, few areas have advanced as rapidly as health care. For physicians, incorporating hundreds of thousands of articles into practice and applying them to patient care is a significant challenge. Watson can sift through an equivalent of about 1 million books or roughly 200 million pages of data, and analyze this information to provide precise answers in less than three seconds. This capability is expected to help physicians coordinate medical data with specified patient factors, and identify the most likely treatment options in complex cases.
We envision that providers will be able to use Watson to consult patient medical histories and recent test results (in compliance with applicable privacy and security laws), recommended treatment protocols, and the latest research findings loaded into Watson, to discuss the most effective treatment options with their patients.
Depending on the progress of development efforts, we anticipate employing Watson technology in early 2012, working with select oncologists in one of the first clinical pilots. Additionally, we are exploring opportunities for Watson technology to help streamline internal processes, and improve efficiencies in our clinical review of complex cases.
We believe this tool will offer providers additional insight and an efficient means of analyzing patient history, symptoms, and the latest in medical research and literature as an adjunct to their practice. We plan to continue to share information about our work with IBM Watson as additional details become available.