IBM launches Watson-based big data services for clinical care

Summary:The expansion of IBM's US Federal Healthcare Practice includes data visualization, and an analytics service that integrates unstructured data from physician notes and lab results into electronic medical record systems.

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IBM announced Thursday an overall expansion of its U.S. Federal Healthcare Practice aimed at putting big data capabilities in the realm of clinical care.

IBM is adding big data and cognitive computing services for federal health care clients via its Watson Group cloud. Services include patient interaction, diagnostics and research, and data visualization.

Also, IBM made its Advanced Care Insights available to health care providers as a means to collect clinical, social and behavioral data. The bundle utilizes IBM Content Analytics and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to integrate unstructured data from physician notes, lab results and other narrative content within electronic health record (EHR) systems so it can be queried. 

Anne Altman, general manager of IBM US Federal, said in prepared remarks:

IBM has a proven track record in delivering transformational, value-based healthcare solutions that can increase the quality of care and lower costs in both the public and private sector. Government leaders recognize that there is a tremendous opportunity to combine new and existing data sources with advancements in technology to find innovative ways to build a sustainable and affordable healthcare system.

Rounding out the expansion is the appointment of Dr. Keith Salzman as IBM's chief medical information officer. Salzman brings two decades of experience in U.S. Department of Defense military health system.

Looking at the big picture, IBM could be gearing up for the Department of Defense Healthcare Management Systems Modernization (DHMSM) project, an electronic health record program backed by the Department of Defense. While IBM has not spoken out regarding its interest in the project, it could be eyeing a role as the single contractor who would serve as integrator to direct the project.

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Topics: Big Data, Cloud

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Natalie Gagliordi is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in Louisville, Kentucky, covering business technology for ZDNet. She previously worked as the editor of Kiosk Marketplace, an online B2B trade publication that focused on interactive self-service technology, while also contributing to additional websites that covered retail tec... Full Bio

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