IBM has formed a Watson Health medical imaging collaborative alongside more than 15 health systems, academic centres, imaging technology companies and ambulatory radiology providers.

The initiative aims to bring cognitive imaging into daily practice to help doctors address cancer; diabetes; eye health; brain disease; and heart disease and related conditions, such as stroke.

Watson will mine insights from previously ‘invisible’ unstructured imaging data in combination with data from other sources, such as data from electronic health records (EHRs); radiology and pathology reports; lab results; doctors’ progress notes; medical journals; clinical care guidelines and published outcomes studies.

As the work of the collaborative evolves Watson’s rationale and insights will evolve, informed by the latest combined wisdom of these organisations.

The goal is to help physicians make personalised care decisions relevant to a specific patient while building a body of knowledge to benefit broader patient populations.

“There is strong potential for systems like Watson to help to make radiologists more productive, diagnoses more accurate, decisions more sound, and costs more manageable,” said Medical Imaging and Informatics Analyst for Frost & Sullivan, Nadim Michel Daher.

“This is the type of collaborative initiative needed to produce the real-world evidence and examples to advance the field of medical imaging and address patient care needs across large and growing disease states,” continued Daher.

Initial plans include training Watson on a number of conditions based on data from the initiative or from disease registries. Using the data, members could train Watson to identify cardiovascular disease early and spot frequently overlooked heart conditions, such as congestive heart failure.

IBM envisions Watson “learning” how patients’ hearts are likely to start failing and then monitoring the progression of the disease.

“With the ability to draw insights from massive volumes of integrated structured and unstructured data sources, cognitive computing could transform how clinicians diagnose, treat and monitor patients,” said Vice President of Imaging for Watson Health, Anne Le Grand.

“Through IBMs medical imaging collaborative, Watson may create opportunities for radiologists to extract greater insights and value from imaging data while better managing costs,” continued Le Grand.

Members of the new collaborative include: Agfa HealthCare; Anne Arundel Medical Center; Baptist Health South Florida; Eastern Virginia Medical School; Hologic, Inc.; ifa systems AG; Inoveon; Radiology Associates of South Florida; Sentara Healthcare; Sheridan Healthcare; Topcon; UC San Diego Health; University of Miami Health System; University of Vermont Health Network; vRad; MEDNAX; and IBM company, Merge Healthcare.

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