IBM Watson Previews AI-Powered Medical Image Analysis

IBM Watson Health has created AI-powered medical image analysis solutions designed to help healthcare providers pursue personalized approaches to patient diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring.


IBM today announced at the Radiological Society of North America Annual Meeting (RSNA 2016) it will preview new imaging solutions from Watson Health and Merge Healthcare, an IBM Company, designed to help healthcare providers pursue personalized approaches to patient diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring.

The solutions benefit from more than a decade of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) work conducted in IBM Research. Further, IBM Research has partnered with the Radiological Society to debut a live demonstration of how Watson understands, reasons and learns from imaging information.

Medical images are by far the largest and fastest-growing data source in the healthcare industry - IBM researchers estimate that they account for at least 90% of all medical data today - but they also present challenges that need to be addressed. The volume of medical images can be overwhelming to even the most sophisticated specialists; radiologists in some hospital emergency rooms are presented with thousands of images each day.

Tools to help clinicians extract insights from medical images remain limited, requiring most analysis to be done manually. This has created an opportunity to analyze and cross-reference medical images against a deep trove of lab results, electronic health records, genomic tests, clinical studies and other health-related data sources to enable providers to compare new medical images with a patient’s image history as well as populations of similar patients to detect changes and anomalies.

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“The breadth and depth of Watson-powered solutions on display at RSNA 2016 from Watson Health’s imaging group and from Merge are unmatched among the AI community, and showcase how IBM is bringing cognitive computing to healthcare in clinically meaningful ways,” said Anne LeGrand, Vice President of Imaging for IBM Watson Health.

IBM Watson Healthcare ImagingIBM Watson Health’s cognitive computing demo for radiologists at RSNA 2016. (Photo credit: IBM Watson Health)

“Watson cognitive computing is ideally suited to support radiologists on their journey ‘Beyond Imaging’ to practices that address the needs of patient populations, deliver improved patient outcomes, and demonstrate real-world value,” said Nancy Koenig, General Manager of Merge Healthcare. “This week at RSNA, Merge is proud to unveil solutions for providers that enable the first steps on the cognitive care journey, addressing breast cancer, lung cancer, and trauma patients in the ER.”

IBM Watson was recently featured in a 60 Minutes report about how AI has made more progress in the past five years than in the previous 50. And how it’s being used for more than simply beating humans at “Jeopardy!”

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60 Minutes first explored how IBM Watson is revolutionizing cancer treatment. For example, scientific research grows at a rate of some 8,000 academic papers a day, a number far too much for doctors to keep up with. In an analysis of more than 1,000 cancer patients, Watson found the same treatments available that doctors had recommended 99 percent of the time. Watson can read 25 million published medical papers in about week, able to suggest new trials human doctors may be unaware of.

“The … more exciting part about [the analysis] is in 30 percent of patients, Watson found something new - so that’s 300-plus people where Watson identified a treatment that a well-meaning, hard-working group of physicians hadn’t found,” says Dr. Sharpless, head of the University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. The treatments identified by Watson were in clinical trial or had only become approved or revealed recently. “These were real … things … we would have considered actionable had we known about it at the time of the diagnosis.”



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