IBM Watson and Atrius to encourage patient-doctor dialogue

Massachusetts-based non-profit Atrius Health has recruited IBM Watson to help develop a cloud service to improve shared care decisions between patients and clinicians.

The resulting software will integrate with primary care physicians’ existing electronic health records system, gathering clinical evidence insights from similar non-identified patient cases to better inform treatment and care decisions.

The plan is to deploy the solution across all of Atrius’ 29 medical practices in the state – a network that comprises 875 physicians caring for around 675,000 patients.

“Watson’s natural language processing can read and understand clinical notes in the electronic health record. When combined with analytics and other advanced technologies, it is then possible to extract critical insights about an individual’s health and responses to interventions,” said Paul Tang, vice president and chief health transformation officer for IBM Watson Health. “Armed with comprehensive information about the individual, and insights about the outcomes of similar people, physicians will be in a better position to personalise the care plan for each person.”

Singling this deal out of Watson’s already exhaustive portfolio is its focus on ‘shared decision making’ – care decisions made between both doctor and patient. Many of Watson’s current deals involve using the AI to aid in clinical research or to better inform doctor treatment selections. This deal, on the other hand, addresses specific communications between both patient and doctor.

“Atrius Health is committed to increasing the joy in the practice of medicine for our clinicians and staff,” said Steve Strongwater, president and CEO of Atrius Health. “Working with IBM Watson Health offers a unique opportunity to help our Atrius Health clinicians make greater use of the mountains of digitalised information generated daily through our care of patients. The unique capabilities of Watson Cognitive Insights will help our primary care clinicians increase both effectiveness and efficiency.”

In the US, the new partnership with Atrius is the second this month to deploy Watson across a healthcare organisation. The first came with a collaboration with the Jupiter Medical Center in Florida which made it the first US hospital to adopt IBM’s Watson for Oncology – a system that ranks potential cancer treatment options based on insights gathered from scientific literature.

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