An EMR Point of Differentiation – Watson

Posted on May 17, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Michael Dale has an interesting post I came across discussing IBM’s Watson in healthcare. Here’s one piece of the post:

You may know Watson best for its performance on the Jeopardy game show. Watson demonstrated swift decision making after indexing over 200 million pages of data. Watson would only answer if the system crossed a certain confidence threshold. The confidence threshold was a predefined percentage set inside the system. When Watson referenced the data, it determined the percentage to which it was sure the top three answers were correct. If the percentage of the top answer crossed the confidence threshold, Watson would signal for the answer. The IBM machine proved itself successful against two humans competing in the game show by winning both rounds.

Certainly physicians and members have much to gain from the assistance of a machine that can reference millions of pages of data to ascertain a diagnosis or treatment. While physicians may always hold the upper hand to interpret the context of the situation for a presenting patient, Watson’s assistance can certainly supplement any decision using vast amounts of data in a quicker time frame.

My immediate reaction to reading this post was the following:

Reading what you wrote made me wonder if the Watson like technology could become a strong differentiation between EHR vendors. It has been extremely challenging lately to differentiate between the various EHR vendor offerings. It seems like having a Watson like brain assisting you in the process could become a differentiation point.

So many physicians are trying to sift through the overwhelming number of EHR companies, that they are looking and wanting for some sort of major EHR differentiation. I wonder if some smart Watson like technology would be amazing enough to blow physicians away so they start saying, I have to have that.

Michael Dale also discusses in the post how Watson would essentially use an EHR to access the data. Sounds a lot like my comments about EHR Being the Database of Healthcare.