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Cognitive computing for health care is just what the doctor ordered

Systems like IBM Watson can instantly seam through billions of terabytes of data like medical histories, clinical trial information and journals to aid in diagnosis and treatment

IBM
By IBM
Published: 07, Apr 2016

IBM has always been a company in a state of constant renewal and reinvention. Through economic upheavals and natural disasters, tech bubbles and recessions, it continues to engage clients, governments, local communities and universities to improve how the world works. Differentiated by values, strengthened by collaboration and experienced through the IBMer, today their solutions in Cloud, Big Data, Analytics, Mobility, Predictive Intelligence and others are making the world smarter. Through its Blog posts, IBMers will explore some essential areas of business and life that are deeply interlinked with technology and would like to invite all to share experiences and comments as it continues on this journey of discovery and innovation.

cognitive_computing
(Photo: Shutterstock)

Cognitive computing is the simulation of human thought processes by cognitive systems. Cognitive computing systems interact with humans and learn from every interaction. They help humans make better decisions by providing insights. These insights are derived using big data cognition i.e. by crunching, analysing and identifying patterns in large, complex, structured and unstructured data sets.

Cognitive computing has a huge role to play in health care in India. Let’s consider the problem of cancer. Age-adjusted incidence rates of cancer, which were traditionally low in a demographically young country have been steadily increasing in recent years. Cancer claims an estimated 7,00,000 lives annually, making it the second biggest cause of death after heart diseases1 .

Twenty eight women die in Uttar Pradesh daily of cervical cancer, which, if diagnosed early, is treatable2 . According to the World Health Organization, India has just one doctor for every 1,600 people, placing a huge burden on medical practitioners3. A large number of cases aren’t detected, are under-diagnosed or deaths due to cancer aren’t registered, making the situation more alarming.

Cognitive systems like the industry’s leading cognitive capability IBM Watson4 , can help improve the quality of cancer care. It can help an oncologist sift through vast volumes of data in minutes which would have normally taken days or, at times, weeks. This is possible because of Watson’s ability to instantly analyse billions of terabytes of data like medical histories, clinical trial information, journals etc.

IT companies need to embrace the challenge of developing cognitive systems for the Indian health care market. Cognitive Application Program Interfaces (APIs) are now available on the cloud for companies to build applications. Cognitive systems become better with each interaction; hence more the number of applications and systems, the closer we are to solving the health care issues of India and the rest of the world.

- By Rama Chandra (Ram) Dash, Business Unit Leader, IBM Watson Health, India Software lab.

External References: 1. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045%2814%2970115-9/abstract
2. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/Cervical-cancer-kills-28-UP-women-a-day/articleshow/49965489.cms
3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3920109/
4. http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/ibmwatson/

  • Dhirendra Kar

    Nice article, the problem lies in Indian health care industry is reliable patient information. Neither in Govt. Hospitals or the major private players using the systems to capture data for insight into trend and improving patient care. A long way to go.

    on Jun 2, 2016
  • Shefali

    The patient to doctor ratio is skewed and far more in rural areas. 'Cognitive Systems' will enable the doctors and ensure same treatment irrespective of the geography. Very nice article!

    on May 11, 2016
  • Yasir

    Great article throwing light on how to leverage the newest technologies for the welfare of needy people.

    on May 6, 2016
  • Ashlesh

    Ram, the blog is very well articulated and highlights need for the growth of Cognition.

    on May 5, 2016
  • Sudharshan Govindan

    You have brought the essence of Cognitive computing through your crisply written blog ! Cognitive computing is no longer an option for Health care and IT industries. It is a gold mine for industries to harvest and reap benefits. IBM is in a very good position in this arena.

    on May 5, 2016
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