IBM Watson-Siemens partnership takes aim at population health management

IBM Watson

In its latest among a bevy of partnerships throughout the healthcare industry, IBM Watson is looking to reverse the trend of hospitals dragging their feet when it comes to population health management.

Watson and health giant Siemens, via its renamed healthcare unit, Siemens Healthineers, announced a five-year strategic alliance to jointly develop population health management tools. The goal, according to a Siemens’ statement, is to help provider organizations improve value-based care for chronic patients.

Siemens will have access to IBM’s Watson Care Manager, and as such will offer population health management tools from Watson Health.

Already this year, IBM Watson announced partnerships with UPMC to improve supply chain performance, with Medtronic on the development of a new diabetes app, with the American Diabetes Association and with Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals to improve the patient experience, among others.

IBM also announced the formation of a collaborative of 15 healthcare imaging providers and vendors that will work to bring cognitive imaging to day-to-day practice. Through that partnership, organizations will “put Watson to work to extract insights from previously ‘invisible’ unstructured imaging data and combine that with a broad variety of data from other sources.”

Additionally on Tuesday, IBM announced a collaboration with medical information services company Best Doctors that will give its own employees living with cancer the ability to take advantage of Watson technology. Qualifying patients who choose to participate, according to IBM, will have their medical records collected by Best Doctors. Relevant information then will be entered into Watson’s databases, and oncologists from the Best Doctors network will review the information and create an assessment for the patient and his or her regular doctor.

In August, IBM Watson helped doctors in Japan determine that a woman diagnosed with one form of leukemia was actually suffering from another form of the disease. The machine analyzed the patient’s medical information and cross-referenced it with millions of oncological records that doctors uploaded to its system from the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Medical Science.

IBM also is working with the Department of Veterans Affairs, as part of the Cancer Moonshot initiative, to treat veterans with cancer. What’s more, the computer’s technology will be provided for free to the VA for two years, and will be used to analyze genomic data, pinpoint potential cancer-causing mutations and identify potential treatments.