For a data-intensive industry like healthcare, software must do more than learn and adapt. It must propel discovery and innovation throughout the enterprise. For years, software’s expanding capabilities were geared primarily toward helping employees make better and faster decisions, for instance, by more efficiently gathering and sharing clinical or claims information.
Clinical and operational systems, electronic health records and connected health devices are among the sources that have contributed to a growing influx of data. This data explosion, accompanied by advances in processing power, health analytics and cognitive technology, is fuelling software intelligence. Now, everyday things, such as medical devices and wearables, recognise, “think” and respond accordingly.
Greater operational excellence and improved clinical outcomes await those who grasp the upside potential.
Software is helping oncologists determine the right therapy for cancer patients based on factors such as medical history and stage of cancer. At hospitals, intelligent systems that securely connect data from multiple systems and devices allow nurses to spend more time with patients and more quickly and accurately collect patient data.
Take a picture of a rash on your skin and health analytics will help triage the issue. A machine could perceive that its user is running a fever, diagnose her illness and put her in touch with the right healthcare provider. Your electronic health record will include a lifetime’s worth of data, generations of family history, and genomics, to enable more personalised protocols.
Analytics will be used to predict patient behavior and needs. Hospitals will predict emergency room volume based on history, weather patterns and local events. Medical breakthroughs will increase based on insights from an ever-growing treasure trove of data.
IBM has made one of the largest investments in cognitive computing today, putting $1 billion toward its Watson Group early in 2014. Defeating two champions of the TV game show "Jeopardy!" in 2011 was just the beginning; Watson is now taking on pertinent vertical industry challenges, with an emphasis on the healthcare industry.
According to IBM Chief Executive Virginia Rometty, Watson has the potential to “change the face of healthcare”—helping doctors deliver better, more personalised care in situations that may not be well defined or clear. The ultimate goal is for Watson to continue to deepen its knowledge and expand its breadth of expertise—to achieve the Holy Grail of software intelligence.
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