IBM Watson Health’s Challenges Tell Us More About Healthcare Data Than It Does About AI

1upHealth’s CEO, Joe Gagnon, writing for Forbes Technology Council about the recent challenges faced by IBM Watson Health and what they reveal about healthcare data.

IBM Watson Health started its “life” with big aspirations, great intent and a lot of fanfare. After years of effort with a lot of smart people working in earnest to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) system to accelerate and improve physician diagnosis and treatment decisions for cancer tumors, Watson has had limited success. This is not an indictment of AI and its promise but rather an understanding of the very real challenge of bringing new technology to the very complex and complicated healthcare system it hopes to transform.

How To Build A Sustainable Data-Enabled Healthcare System

Watson Health started with a high-profile subject: cancer diagnosis. But the real way to use healthcare data to achieve the kind of spectacular results IBM tried to achieve is by unspectacular, seemingly mundane means, step by step.

A good place to start with FHIR®-enabled data access is with a data-dependent operational process that currently takes a lot a lot of manual work, such as administrative reporting. Data from multiple sources needs to be wrangled to create a single report. It is time-consuming and error-prone.

Such reports—on quality scoring, utilization and risk reporting—provide a view into what’s working and what isn’t, where the costs are and what could be improved. With FHIR, they can incorporate more data sources, in a greater level of data, over a wider range of specific reports.

As each improvement is made, it gains trust and acceptance for the next one. Instead of having to persuade people to incorporate this new output into their workflow, they instead grow to rely on that output, and demand it.

Grow From A Solid Data Foundation

While a more responsive, dynamic and instantaneous healthcare data system begins with FHIR, it is not enough. A healthcare data system that grows and improves over time needs a modern data infrastructure that’s connected and powered by applications that can enable real-time operations and predictive analytics on a population level. It begins with FHIR because the new data standard is based on web technologies of conformity and transportability, eliminating proprietary definitions and using common language that represents the richness of a transaction between two parties. This language is vastly more complex than the common data standards online retail has relied on to transform how we shop. And it will take correspondingly more time and effort to get right.

With common definitions, everyone using the system uses the same FHIR language and the resource model that comes with it. Whether it’s a claim, a medical record or an appointment, it’s in the common format. Everyone can communicate and interact with the information on a human level, both between organizations and within them, providing the basis for long-term improvement.

To read Joe’s article in full, click here: Read Article

This article was originally published by Forbes Technology Council on May 3, 2022.

About Forbes Technology Council:

Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives. Members are selected for the council based on their deep knowledge and diverse experience in the industry.

About 1upHealth: 

1upHealth is the leading FHIR® platform that connects an ecosystem of payers, providers, patients, life sciences, and app developers within a trusted interoperability network. Unlike legacy enterprise companies, 1upHealth was created and built with the modern healthcare infrastructure in mind. The 1up FHIR® platform is serverless with cloud-native applications that transform data at enterprise scale with greater ease and simplicity to improve patient outcomes, drive population-level analytics and enable medical innovation. Founded in 2017, the company is connected to more than 10,000 clinical endpoints with best-in-class FHIR® APIs. Gartner designated 1upHealth a “Cool Vendor in Healthcare Interoperability” for its FHIR® platform.

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