PFCD Capitol Hill Roundtable Explores IBM Watson Technology’s Value in Advancing Health Care Innovations

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- As the first in its four-part 2012 “Partnerships in Health” series, the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), in conjunction with WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE: WLP), hosted a Capitol Hill roundtable today highlighting WellPoint’s collaboration with IBM to apply Watson solutions to support clinical decision-making and improving the quality of patient care.

U.S. Representative Karen Bass kicked off the “IBM Watson: Learning Machines Advancing Health Care Innovations” event followed by a roundtable discussion and interactive audience Q&A session about how this modern technology is expected to improve health care decision-making, especially in the identification of treatment options in complex medical conditions such as cancer and other chronic diseases.

With the rapid pace of medical innovation and growing volume of clinical research, it’s increasingly challenging for doctors to keep up with these advances and conduct the day-to-day aspects of their clinical work. IBM's Watson has the ability to process human language, weigh vast amounts of medical information and recommend treatment options helping physicians make more accurate diagnoses improving the quality of health care for patients.

“Today’s discussion is a true testament as to how a promising technology such as IBM Watson could help doctors better treat chronic diseases,” said Dr. Ken Thorpe, chairman of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. “With 84 cents of every health care dollar spent on chronic diseases, it is important for us to learn from and implement innovative solutions that have the potential to both bend the growing cost curve and improve the quality of life for the millions of Americans affected by chronic disease.”

In addition to showcasing videos of IBM Watson at work, the hour-long roundtable participants included:

  • Kenneth Thorpe, Ph.D., chairman, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease; Robert W. Woodruff professor and chair, Department of Health Policy & Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University
  • David Kerr, director, corporate strategy, IBM
  • Elizabeth Bigham, vice president, health IT strategy, WellPoint

“WellPoint is working with IBM to apply Watson's technology assisting physicians and nurses to identify the most likely treatment options for their patients,” said Elizabeth Bigham, vice president, health IT strategy, WellPoint. “We are proud to collaborate with the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease to highlight how technology innovations can help combat chronic disease and improve health care delivery.”

“Diseases such as cancer are increasingly complex and require evolving treatment options. IBM Watson is envisioned to help navigate vast repositories of medical information and clinical knowledge to provide effective decision support for treatment,” said David Kerr, director, corporate strategy, IBM. “Combining evidence-based insights with clinical reasoning has the potential to profoundly impact the quality of patient care."

For more information on PFCD and future events, please visit

About the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease

The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) is a national coalition of patients, providers, community organizations, business and labor groups, and health policy experts committed to raising awareness of the number one cause of death, disability, and rising health care costs in the U.S.: chronic disease.

About WellPoint, Inc.:

At WellPoint, we believe there is an important connection between our members' health and wellbeing- and the value we bring our customers and shareholders. So each day we work to improve the health of our members and their communities. And, we can make a real difference since we have nearly 34 million people in our branded health plans, and more than 62 million people served through our subsidiaries. As an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, WellPoint serves members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), and Wisconsin. In a majority of these service areas, WellPoint's plans do business as Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, or Empire Blue Cross (in the New York service areas). WellPoint also serves customers throughout the country as UniCare and in certain California, Arizona and Nevada markets through our CareMore subsidiary. Additional information about WellPoint is available at


for Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD)
Rebecca Chin, 202-223-9260
[email protected]

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