By Dr. Lewis Levy
“Cognitive computing is only as good as the data that goes in and the experts that interpret what comes out.”
It was February 2011 when IBM Watson amazed millions of viewers by competing against – and beating – famed Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings. Since then, there have been significant developments in artificial intelligence and data analytics, as well as a recent groundswell of companies in healthcare desiring to capitalize on its capabilities. But just like the preparation that was done with Watson for Jeopardy nearly seven years ago, the same holds true today – cognitive computing is only as good as the data that goes in and the experts that interpret what comes out.
Data, Data and More Data
In recent months, Best Doctors made headlines by combining the cognitive computing genius of IBM Watson with the human knowledge of over 53,000 of the world’s leading physicians. A significant and concerning reality makes this partnership even more compelling: with the countless studies and hundreds of pages of medical knowledge that are being generated each day, it is next to impossible for practicing physicians to stay abreast of every new development. Physicians recognize that it takes 17 years, on average, for science to be translated into the best clinical practice. Contrast that to IBM Watson that can read 200 million documents in three seconds.
While using artificial intelligence to help guide healthcare decisions is a relatively new practice, the results continue to dictate that medical excellence and quality must be foundational components of such a program. Without a foundation of medical quality, big data, analytics, and cognitive services fall short and could ultimately be misused in areas where mistakes are already far too prevalent.
Not All AI Is Created Equal
This is where more practitioners and early adopters of the Watson Health and Best Doctors solution are finding that technology alone is often a commodity, but medical quality is the major differentiator. As more employers and health plans turn to AI to help make critical treatment decisions, patients and care providers are finding that these innovative tools must begin with the highest quality data. Quality in. Quality out. When you have the top five percent of experts in more than 450 specialties of medicine reviewing the data, asking the right questions, and guiding the process of interpretation as well, those are quality controls you can count on.
It’s the Outcomes that Matter
Recently, a 50-year old female was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her treating oncologists recommended that she begin chemotherapy immediately. Thankfully, her employer offered Best Doctors and Watson Health as an employee benefit. After a thorough review of her medical records, test results, and family history, Watson for Oncology recommended endocrine therapy. A team of Best Doctors expert oncologists then reviewed the case and all of Watson’s findings. They agreed with Watson’s findings that chemotherapy wouldn’t be necessary and specified that aromatase inhibitor therapy would be the ideal solution. She recently shared her experiences and had this to say about the combination of AI and expert review, “These reports changed my life. Without you, I would be getting chemotherapy right now. I can never thank you enough.”
The continued success of AI in health will also rely on experts to contextualize each patient with the health system that he or she is in. The personalized care approach can even match individual patients with clinical trials. It’s far from just an expert opinion. It’s a highly personalized expert opinion, fueled by the world’s most powerful cognitive computing process.
Teladoc and Best Doctors bring the largest expert database and case volume in the industry, with expert analysis of hundreds of thousands of cases over the past 28 years. Watson Health brings the cutting edge cognitive tool that meticulously mines this data for precious information that can be used to provide evidence-based recommendations that can transform health outcomes. Together they provide an opportunity for healthcare that has never been attempted at such a profound level. With clinical advocacy services that have resulted in corrected or refined diagnoses in 45% of its U.S.-based cases, while altering or improving treatment in nearly 75% of cases, the results speak for themselves.
Whether it’s preparing for a Jeopardy challenge or solving the most complex healthcare case, the same underlying premise holds true. Quality and expertise are the powerful differentiator. Only with a focus on medical excellence can artificial intelligence achieve its incredible potential.