Epic Teams Up With IBM Watson and Mayo Clinic To Improve Clinical Decision Support

10-17-2013 8-01-10 PM

IBM has announced a new partnership between its Watson division, Mayo Clinic, and EHR giant Epic Systems, marking yet another exciting Watson-based partnership in healthcare. Thus far, Watson’s healthcare-related projects have been narrow in scope, focused on analyzing lung cancer treatment plans or helping clinical trial administrators find qualifying participants, but in its newly announced partnership with Epic, IBM is hoping to build a clinical decision support solution that might appeal to the broader enterprise healthcare market. IBM’s Mike Rhodin, the senior vice president of the IBM Watson business unit explains, "We are collaborating with Epic and Mayo Clinic in another important validation of the potential of Watson to be used broadly across the healthcare industry.”

Epic is largely considered to be the premiere EHR system in healthcare, with some of the world’s more prominent hospitals using it to automate care delivery within their organizations. While EHRs have helped organizations gather more data about their operations, and thus understand at a more finite level what is slowing outcomes improvements, the systems themselves are generally perceived as having failed to deliver meaningful cost savings or outcomes improvements thus far.

To help close the gap between the return on investment the EHRs are currently delivering to health systems and ROI hospital executives hoped for, Epic is turning to the Mayo Clinic and IBM’s Watson supercomputer. Together, the team are planning projects that they hope will advance EHRs and better position them to help drive clinical and financial improvements. Specifically, Epic plans to integrate Watson’s computing engine into its clinical decision support platform. Clinicians will be able to share clinical data with Watson and, using that data, Watson will help develop patient-specific treatment plans and personalized chronic disease management plans. Watson will also return clinically relevant case studies and best-practice recommendations based on the patient’s case.

For its part, Mayo clinic will pilot the new products and provide clinical guidance to the overall development effort. Mayo Clinic already has experience both with Epic and Watson. The clinic runs Epic across all of its facilities, and has been working with IBM to pilot other Watson projects, including a project in which Watson is used to identify potential clinical trial participants that are receiving care at the clinic.

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