Seedbed for Research

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , September 13, 2012
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This article appears in the September 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

The healthcare industry, which has long trailed other industries in its use of analytics, is developing into a seedbed for research on advanced analytics, including topics such as natural language processing, artificial intelligence, and genomics.

The healthcare analytics world last year took particular note of IBM's Watson project, a supercomputer able to answer questions posed in natural language that defeated human competitors on the TV quiz show Jeopardy! IBM then announced it was working with Columbia University and others to commercialize Watson for clinical analytics and decision support.

At HCA, Jonathan Perlin, MD, chief medical officer and president of the clinical and physician services group, says, "We're doing some advanced work in terms of looking at how we might use natural language processing to detect subtleties in data and, in the future, even better support for precision medicine and personalized care."

In March, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center announced its partnership on the Watson research. "We're still in the early work, very actively working on this project with IBM," says Patricia Skarulis, vice president of information systems and CIO. "All I can tell you is they are devoting a lot of resources and we are devoting a lot of resources. Database people, analytics people, our senior physicians. It's been a fun project."

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