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Jeopardy!’s Watson Computer and Healthcare

Posted on May 25, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’m sure like many of you, I was completely intrigued by the demonstration of the Watson computer competing against the best Jeopardy! stars. It was amazing to watch not only how Watson was able to come up with the answer, but also how quickly it was able to reach the correct answer.

The hype at the IBM booth at HIMSS was really strong since it had been announced that healthcare was one of the first places that IBM wanted to work on implementing the “Watson” technology (read more about the Watson Technology in Healthcare in this AP article). Although, I found the most interesting conversation about Watson in the Nuance booth when I was talking to Dr. Nick Van Terheyden. The idea of combining the Watson technology with the voice recognition and natural language processing technologies that Nuance has available makes for a really compelling product offering.

One of the keys in the AP article above and was also mentioned by Dr. Nick from Nuance was that the Watson technology in healthcare would be applied differently than it was on Jeopardy!. In healthcare it wouldn’t try and make the decision and provide the correct answer for you. Instead, the Watson technology would be about providing you a number of possible answers and the likelihood of that answer possibly being the issue.

Some of this takes me back to Neil Versel’s posts about Clinical Decision Support and doctors resistance to CDS. There’s no doubt that the Watson technology is another form of Clinical Decision Support, but there’s little about the Watson technology which takes power away from the doctor’s decision making. It certainly could have an influence on a doctor’s ability to provide care, but that’s a great thing. Not that I want doctors constantly second guessing themselves. Not that I want doctors relying solely on the information that Watson or some other related technology provides. It’s like most clinical tools. When used properly, they can provide a great benefit to the doctor using them. When used improperly, it can lead to issues. However, it’s quite clear that Watson technology does little to take away from the decision making of doctors. In fact, I’d say it empowers doctors to do what they do better.

Personally I’m very excited to see technologies like Watson implemented in healthcare. Plus, I think we’re just at the beginning of what will be possible with this type of computing.

One More Reason to Implement an EMR – Genomics

Posted on May 17, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Katherine Rourke, on my sister site EMR and EHR, wrote an interesting piece on Adding Genomic Info to the EMR. Here’s a short excerpt from the post. You should go and read the rest of the post as well.

As the author notes, some specialties have already begun to tailor drug treatments to individual patients based on their genomic profile. For example, DNA sequencing of tumors in non-Hodgkin’s and Mantle Cell lymphoma can lead to personalized cancer vaccines that can produce great results, notes writer Gerry Higgins of the NIH.

Such data can also be used for a growing number of clinical situations, such as tailoring Coumadin doses to specific patients and providing psychiatric patients with the appropriate drug.

I’d been meaning to write about genomics and EMR for a while and so I’m glad that Katherine did. In one of my more interesting discussions at HIMSS with CMO of Nuance, Dr Nick (sorry, his last name is too hard to spell), we talked about the future of EMR and the possible benefits it could provide to patient care, diagnosing, etc. Nuance had partnered with IBM’s Watson project (the famous Jeopardy Watson) to apply the Watson technology to healthcare. At its core is using technology to crunch a lot of data and provide some meaningful (sorry I had to use the word) results or information.

As this discussion progressed, I casually suggested that one day we’ll need the same sort of processing across things like a person’s genome. The genome project isn’t quite a consumer commodity, but it’s getting there. One day, it won’t be at all surprising for us to bring our PHR info along with our personal genome to the doctor’s office. The lady at the front desk will ask you for a copy of your genome. Pretty crazy to consider, but probably much closer to happening than we realize.

Imagine trying to somehow process the information found in a genome in a paper based world. Exactly! The thought is so unreasonable you have to just laugh. I don’t follow the science of using the genome in healthcare that closely, but the examples in the above article by Katherine are quite interesting.

Plus, I think we’re still in an old world mentality where the world is still flat when it comes to understanding the data that’s available in the human genome. One day some remarkable humane genome Christopher Columbus is going to discover a new world that nobody knew about before. EMR software will be the tool used by most doctors to tap into that new world of healthcare based on the human genome.

This is why I’ve argued for so long about the possible long term benefits of having an EMR. The integration of a patient’s genome into their healthcare is just one of those potential long term benefits of having an EMR in your office.

Speech Recognition and EMR

Posted on September 21, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Shahid, The Healthcare Guy, recently added a guest post from Nick van Terheyden, MD, Chief Medical Information Officer (Clinical Language Understanding) from Nuance Healthcare (Yes, they make Dragon Naturally Speaking – DNS) about making the most of speech recognition with an EMR. Here are the major points that Nick made:

  • Have the right hardware installed.
  • Intelligent application Coexistence.
  • Use good quality microphones and sound recording equipment.
  • Environmental Considerations.
  • Create a Standard and Replicate.
  • Anticipate Resistance. Expect resistance.
  • Quick Portable Guides.
  • Preparation.
  • Horses for Courses.
  • Identify champion(s).

I think that voice recognition is fascinating. Personally, I haven’t used it all that much. I certainly write a lot and so you’d think it would be perfect for me. I guess the reason I haven’t done it is first that I type pretty fast and second the extra time that it takes me to type the post helps me to formulate my ideas into a more coherent manner.

People are generally surprised to find out that I don’t proofread these blog posts (most of the time). It’s definitely a different type of publishing, but for the most part I build an idea in my head and then formulate the content for the blog as I type it. I’m not sure how well that would work with voice recognition. Although, maybe this week I’ll try it and see how it goes.

This said, I think many doctors have well trained dictation skills and so the idea of using speech recognition to capture their documentation into an EMR is a very natural thing. Hopefully the above ideas will help out those that are interested in pursuing speech recognition.

Nuance and MModal – Natural Language Processing Expertise

Posted on July 23, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Many of you might remember that one of the most interesting things I saw at HIMSS this year was the natural language processing that was being done by MModal. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this video interview of MModal that I did at HIMSS. I still think there really could be something to the idea of retaining the narrative that dictation provides while also pulling out the granular data elements in that narrative.

With that background, I found it really interesting when I was on LinkedIn the other day and saw Dr. Nick van Terheyden,the same guy I interviewed in the video linked above had switched companies. Nick’s profile on LinkedIn had him listed as working for Nuance instead of MModal. I guess this shouldn’t have been a surprise. Nuance has a lot of skin in the natural language processing game and it seemed to me that MModal had the technology that would make it a reality. So, now Dr. Nick van Terheyden is the Chief of Medical Information Officer for Nuance.

I’d say this is a really good move by Nuance and I’m sure Nick is being richly rewarded as well. Nick was one of the most interesting people that I met at HIMSS this year. I’ll be certain to search him out at next year’s event to hear the whole story. Luckily, I also found out that Nick is blogging about voice recognition in healthcare on his blog Voice of the Doctor. I always love it when smart people like Nick start blogging.