That's the goal of organizations such as OptumLabs, a joint initiative announced in January between the Mayo Clinic and Optum, a healthcare informatics company within United Healthcare. OptumLabs will make "information assets, technologies, knowledge tools and scientific expertise available to organizations interested in pursuing practical new solutions to patient care challenges," according to a press release.
There's Big Data-and Then There's Watson
No discussion of big data and healthcare is complete without IBM's Watson, perhaps the poster child of what's to come. Just over a year ago, IBM began working with health benefits provider Wellpoint and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to train Watson to become, more or less, an oncologist's assistant that's able to recommend treatment options.
One of the biggest problems in healthcare is the sheer volume of new information being generated on everything from adverse drug events to advances in cancer treatment to genomic research. No doctor can keep up, so Watson ingested more than 1.5 million de-identified Memorial Sloan-Kettering patent records. Watson also came preloaded with 600,000 pieces of published medical evidence and two million pages of text from more than 40 medical journals.
The outcome of this effort is now available commercially. IBM, Memorial Sloan-Kettering and WellPoint announced in February the first products based on Watson. These include the Interactive Care Insights for Oncology, the WellPoint Interactive Care Guide and Interactive Care Reviewer, powered by Watson and designed for utilization management in collaboration with WellPoint and IBM.
"A lot of our clients see [big data] as a problem," Parrish says. "We don't see it that way. There's just a wonderful opportunity to converge on the fact the technology exists, the data is there and we have a problem that's a data-intensive problem. That's why I say it's a perfect storm."
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