How WellPoint plans to use IBM's Watson

Summary:WellPoint's CFO says that IBM's Watson can be "the unique disruptor" in the health care industry.

WellPoint plans to use IBM's Watson technology to speed up health care diagnosis, claims processing and ultimately disrupt the market.

Wayne DeVeydt, CFO at WellPoint, told investors at a Morgan Stanley investment conference that the company was expecting consolidation in the health care industry and survivors had to get an edge to thrive. DeVeydt said scale will matter and WellPoint's secret weapon may turn out to be Watson.

On Monday, IBM and WellPoint announced a partnership to launch Watson-based pilots. On Tuesday, DeVeydt provided a grand overview and a lesson about how Watson and physicians can make quite a tag-team. Here's what DeVeydt had to say:

The thing is that medicine is changing so fast and so quick and so many new things are coming in that it is impossible for any one physician to know everything they need to know about any kind of outcome or any kind of diagnosis that would be out there. What Watson does is it learns and it moves forward.

And what we're looking forward to do is we're going to start piloting this program, is to start to feed it, start to feed it our claims data, start to work with physicians on how we feed their intellectual knowledge, what they're learning, what the outcomes are. And it learns. And what it's going to help we think over time is it's going to really help doctors to diagnose much quicker.

If you think about care today, there's a multiple of outcomes. What Watson can do, though, is actually give you probabilities of outcomes based on the symptoms that you put into it and the data you put into it. And again, what it will do is it will allow doctors to understand that I didn't think about that, why is that the case. Go into the data more.

So we actually view this as probably one of the most unique disruptors coming into our business, we're very excited about our partnership with IBM. We think this technology is incredibly unique. But the goal is how do we get this technology into the hands of the providers? Because Watson will never be a doctor, but it sure in the heck can help doctors do their job a lot better and more efficiently.

And if we can diagnose things much sooner and treat it in a much quicker fashion with better outcomes based on data and accumulation of 100 years of medicine and the modern medicine that's changing every day, getting that into the system, we think this can be the unique disruptor.

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Topics: Legal, Banking, CXO, Health, IBM, IT Employment

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Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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