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    Dr Khan vs Dr Watson (human vs machine)

    Author: Ulya Khan, Chief Operating Officer, Physicians Interactive

    Who is Dr Watson? Most people know Watson™ as IBM’s Jeopardy!-winning artificial intelligence supercomputer that premiered about a decade ago. Not long after, IBM’s ambitions for Watson were steered toward having it evolve into a medical genius—hence the name, Dr Watson.

    These days, IBM boasts that Watson can be used in practically any industry. Their website proclaims, “Which industry will IBM Watson help transform next? Well, which industry are you in?” Essentially, Watson could be used for anything—from crafting state-of-the-art inventions to designing cutting-edge architecture.

    Dr Watson has read countless medical textbooks, cover to cover, along with the massive PubMed and Medline databases of medical journals—in their entirety—and thousands of patient records from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), a treatment and research center in Manhattan. (As of 2014, U.S. News & World Report ranked MSKCC as the “#1 cancer hospital” in the country.)

    Connecting the dots
    In science, there are countless seemingly unrelated data points. It’s difficult to put together those complex relationships or to realize that those relationships even exist—but, not for Watson. Watson has a discovery capability called “Discovery Advisor” that can visualize relationships in information from millions (perhaps trillions) of data points it has absorbed from textbooks, online articles, human interactions, and more; information that could take researchers decades or even a lifetime to process.

    Scott Spangler, a lead IBM researcher, said, “Watson … is a powerful tool that understands nuances in human language. It also provides the ability for researchers to visually see connections in their data they would not have considered … and can reduce the time researchers need to formulate hypotheses, increasing precision, and accelerating the pace of discovery from years to months and months to just days.”

    Here’s how IBM describes how Dr Watson could work in practice
    A physician would describe symptoms and other related data points to Dr Watson. The patient’s medical record would be given to Dr Watson, which can then identify the key pieces of information and comb through the patient’s data to find relevant facts, such as medications, family history, blood work results, and comorbidities. Dr Watson can even order further tests to rule out (or rule in) possibilities. It combines all this data, then forms and tests its hypotheses by comparing it to immense data stores (eg, clinical trial findings, electronic medical record data, digital medical notes, peer-reviewed research, treatment guidelines).

    After all this data processing and testing, Dr Watson would provide treatment choices and rate its confidence for each option.

    The Watson supercomputer may soon be the best doctor on the planet
    As you might’ve guessed, Dr Watson is capable of storing far more medical info than a human doctor; what’s more is that it can detect insights where no one would’ve ever thought to look. As scientists at IBM continue training Dr Watson to harness its vast stores of knowledge so as to use the supercomputer in real-world medical decision-making scenarios, even the sharpest human minds are hardly a match against Watson’s diagnostic abilities. And, Dr Watson is getting smarter every day.

    Unlike humans, its conclusions are all objective and evidence-based—free of biases and subjectivities. Watson can generate hypotheses, evaluate the fortitude of those hypotheses, and learn from others and itself. Its capabilities are beyond simply storing data; IBM calls it “cognitive computing”.

    Here’s my question…
    Watson is now being used in some clinical settings and a handful of studies have shown that the computer is better at diagnosing disease than humans because of the information it has at its disposal. Let’s take away the stigma of alternative care models as inferior to seeing a doctor in a clinic. What if a patient doesn’t have access to this doctor for whatever reason?

    My question is this: If we know that these supercomputers can diagnose disease just as well (or better) than most humans, why would we deny access to care for those who have no access to a live physician, if we could use these amazing computer-based solutions?

    Reasons for Dr Watson
    1. Doctor shortage: With the shortage of young doctors coming out of medical schools, there is a market need. Watson would address supply-and-demand problems among growing patient populations and a shrinking market for general practitioners.
    2. Access: If a patient anywhere in the world has access to a computer or phone, Dr Watson is on call for them.
    3. It’s accurate, objective, and consistent.
    4. Availability: Dr Watson is always available. Dr Watson is never sick, on hiatus, vacationing, etc.
    5. Price difference between seeing a human doctor vs Dr Watson: It was, of course, very expensive to build and train Dr Watson. However, the cost of getting diagnoses and finding answers using Watson is minimal. For example, if a regional or national health system utilized Dr Watson, obviously the original purchase price would not be cheap. Yet, once it’s in place, there is hardly a cost to keep it going.

    Dr Watson could change our world
    It’s not a matter of replacing human doctors. It’s a matter of doctors working in conjunction with Watson. Bottom line—allowing access to medical consultations that don’t require an in-person examination would bring unparalleled access to healthcare to those who might not have it.

    If we gave free access to Dr Watson worldwide, can you imagine how it would change that world along with the overall population health status? Watson connects the dots from trillions of points of data. What we discover from this can lead to the breakthroughs that progress our medical world and save millions of lives. When this amazing advanced technology exists today, why aren’t we leveraging it more? I think it’s time.

    Posted in Blog

    Latest Evolution in Healthcare: Collaborative IQ

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    Author: Donato Tramuto, Chairman and CEO, Physicians Interactive

    Why is the healthcare industry lagging technologically?

    In a world of digital information, cutting-edge technology, connection, integration, information sharing and collaboration – all of which have transformed virtually every industry – I ask myself, why hasn’t the healthcare industry caught up? When so much advanced technology exists today, why aren’t we leveraging it in healthcare?

    In my opinion, there are two main obstacles that have been preventing the medical industry from tapping into this unharnessed treasure.

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    Posted in Blog

    When the Connection Is Real: Closing the Loop of Emotional mHealth Engagement

    By John de Souza, President of Consumer Business, Physicians Interactive

    “Successful emotional engagement isn’t just the connection you strive to create with your users; it’s also the connection they create with you.”

    Grab a tissue. Trust me on this.

    Next, plug in your headphones and watch the video below. It’s worth all three minutes and twenty-four seconds of your day.

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    Posted in Blog

    10 Best Practices for Pharmaceutical Marketers Leveraging e-Rx and EHRs

    Ten Takeaways from the CBI e-Rx EHR conference session entitled “Peer Insights on Challenges, Goals and Best Practices for e-Rx and EHRs,” featuring:

    Matt Barry, Assistant Director, Urology Marketing, Astellas

    Terry Coleman, Manager, Market Access, e-solution, Allergan

    Lisa Flaiz, Group Product Director, Digital Marketing, Janssen

    Emelyn Maravilla, Director, Multichannel Marketing, Boehringer Ingelheim

    Andrew Baker, Executive Director, EHR and Marketing, Physicians Interactive

    As it was stated many times at the recent CBI e-Rx EHR conference in Philadelphia, electronic health records (EHRs) are the “wild west” right now. Every agency, partner, and pharmaceutical company is headed into unchartered territory – a territory that is growing year over year – with 63% of U.S. physician offices using EHR software as of January 2015, according to SK&A.  Read More

    Posted in Blog

    4 Ways to Achieve Lasting mHealth Engagement

    By John de Souza, President of Consumer Business, Physicians Interactive

    On March 17, 2015, I had the pleasure of speaking in a Future15 session at South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Interactive in Austin, Texas. My talk, “First Date to I Do: 4 Keys to mHealth Engagement,” covered ways to create a compelling app experience through various engagement strategies, including those that have proven successful for MedHelp.

    Companies want engagement. Apps need it to survive. But what’s often missing is an understanding of what engagement really means. And that understanding is key to deciding how to best foster it.

    There is no silver bullet, no one-size-fits-all solution for every mHealth app or company. Building engagement is a diverse, multi-faceted, and—importantly—an ongoing process. At MedHelp, we’ve experimented with many different approaches, and continue to try new ideas and refine our thinking. Read More

    Posted in Blog

    “Putting the ‘Health’ back in ‘mHealth’: 3 Game-Changing Innovations that Are Saving Lives”

    Author: Bonnie Schirato , Chief People Officer, Physicians Interactive

    Ask any tech-savvy layperson to describe mobile health, and they will mention sleek, high-tech wearables and smartly-designed activity-trackers. Companies like Fitbit, Apple and Nike have successfully bestowed a sense of style upon the industry; and, as more players compete, newer products with flashier design and higher functionality are flooding the marketplace. This deepened focus on bells and whistles has convinced much of the world that discerning gadget enthusiasts are the target audience for mobile health. Yet, a look beyond the glossy façade of mainstream products, which range from apps detailing yoga positions, to sleep trackers, to designer jewelry with biometric monitoring, brings the vernacular use of the term “mobile health” into question. Read More

    Posted in Blog

    Healthcare Deserts


    Author: Donato Tramuto, Chariman and CEO, Physicians Interactive

    We hear frequent media reports on food deserts—rural towns or urban areas without access to fresh, nutritional and affordable food. Yet, healthcare deserts, an equally concerning crisis plaguing millions worldwide, seldom receive such exposure. Healthcare deserts are areas across the globe where quality healthcare is severely limited or is simply nonexistent.

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    Posted in Blog

    Giving Employees What They Want: How Employers Can Partner with Leading Providers to Deliver mHealth Benefits

    Author: Bonnie Schirato, SVP Human Resources and Administration, Physicians Interactive

    As mHealth technology floods the consumer marketplace, the patient’s role in managing his own health is advancing at an unprecedented rate. Products range from wearables, to smart garments, to phone apps, to connected devices like body weight scales and medication trackers, and give patients the autonomy to streamline management of their personal health. Though many agree that it’s time for employers to incorporate these solutions into their employee benefits packages, not all employers are aware of corporate programs offered by leading providers. Well-known consumer-space players—Fitbit and MapMyFitness—have both created inroads to allow employers to facilitate access to employees. Enterprise solutions like our own Red Urchin platform allow employers to group and grant access to many leading wellness products within a cohesive employee portal.

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    Posted in Blog

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