Baptist Health South Florida

Three Miami-Dade Medical Imaging Leaders Among Key Collaborative to Use and Develop IBM’s Watson

June 22, 2016

Three medical imaging leaders in Miami-Dade County — Baptist Health South Florida, Radiology Associates of South Florida and UHealth – the University of Miami Health System — are among a select group now part of IBM Watson Health Medical Imaging Collaborative, which includes sixteen leading health systems, academic medical centers, ambulatory radiology providers and imaging technology companies. The collaborative aims to bring cognitive imaging into daily practice to help doctors address breast, lung, and other cancers; diabetes; eye health; brain disease; and heart disease and related conditions, such as stroke.

In the future, members of the collaborative will put Watson to work to extract insights from previously ‘invisible’ unstructured imaging data and combine that with a broad variety of data to help physicians make personalized care decisions relevant to a specific patient while building a body of knowledge to benefit broader patient populations. This information may include data from an electronic health record, radiology and pathology reports, lab results, doctors’ progress notes, medical journals, clinical care guidelines and published outcomes studies, among the sources. As the work of the collaborative evolves Watson’s rationale and insights will evolve, informed by the latest combined wisdom of these organizations.

“New cutting-edge techniques and methods utilizing cognitive computing in imaging will revolutionize healthcare,” said David M. Seo, M.D., chief information officer and associate vice president of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “Imagine the benefit to our patients when Watson-integration can assist our UHealth physicians to more clearly recognize disease and make a pinpoint diagnosis using just a camera or smartphone photo. We are elated to be a foundational part of this coalition with IBM, working to serve the community by transforming medical imaging through cognitive computing.”

Initial plans include training Watson relevant to imaging needs. Physicians can then evaluate new cognitive imaging offerings in a variety of patient care environments ranging from stand-alone ambulatory settings to integrated health delivery networks. The aim in doing so is to gather data based on diverse real-world experience and share real-world findings to inform how the medical community might reduce operational and financial inefficiencies, improve physician workflows, and adopt a patient-focused approach to improving patient care and outcomes. Further, medical experts could determine how to integrate Watson into existing health IT systems offered by the industry members of the collaborative in order to deliver cognitive insights to providers within existing clinical workflows, such as integrating with electronic health records and PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication Systems).

“Our collaboration with IBM/Watson allows us to help shape the future of medicine by joining efforts to create the tools which will be vital for physicians to make correct decisions based on evidence and complex sources of clinical data thus making a positive difference in patient care across the world,” said Jack Ziffer, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer for Baptist Health South Florida. “We are honored to be a part of this exciting collaboration and the improvements in health and value in healthcare that it promises.”

“There is strong potential for systems like Watson to help to make radiologists more productive, diagnoses more accurate, decisions more sound, and costs more manageable,” said Nadim Michel Daher, a medical imaging and informatics analyst for Frost & Sullivan. “This is the type of collaborative initiative needed to produce the real-world evidence and examples to advance the field of medical imaging and address patient care needs across large and growing disease states.”

Imaging is a notoriously data-intensive field with volume, variety and speed of data generation multiplying every day. Conventional imaging tools are incapable of efficiently managing such large and complex datasets, limiting scalability, sustainability and usability. This growing trove of imaging information is currently disconnected from other relevant data such as wearable devices, population health data, clinical guidelines, and peer-reviewed evidence. As a result, imaging experts and radiologists are always searching for improved methods to efficiently and accurately diagnose, treat and monitor patients.

“Radiology Associates of South Florida is proud to have been engaged by IBM Watson Health to be part of this unique international collaborative to help train Watson,” said Larry Elgarresta, M.D., radiologist at Baptist Health South Florida and vice president of Radiology Associates of South Florida. “In this relationship with IBM, we join them in their much grander vision of harnessing the potential of machine learning, cognitive computing and predictive analytics to gain new insights into disease prevention, diagnosis and management. We are very enthusiastic to help IBM in its goal of transforming medicine to improve the overall care of each patient.”

With an ability to draw insights from massive volumes of structured and unstructured data sources (including images), cognitive computing could transform how clinicians diagnose, treat and monitor patients. Through this collaborative, Watson may create opportunities for radiologists to extract greater insights and value from images and eliminate wasteful spending.

“We are making a critical move to create an ecosystem that will bring better care and efficiencies to healthcare,” said Anne Le Grand, who recently joined IBM as vice president of Imaging for Watson Health. “This is a great example of three different members working to improve outcomes in Florida and through the collaborative will have broader impact in healthcare more broadly.”

Members of the Imaging Collaborative will both teach and learn from Watson during this project. IBM’s cognitive computing platform will be continuously trained and clinically validated by radiologists and specialists from a diverse, multi-region network of academic medical centers, integrated delivery networks, other acute healthcare settings, and ambulatory care facilities.

Media Contacts:

Georgi Pipkin
Baptist Health South Florida

Lisa Worley UHealth – University of Miami Health System
305-243-5184 | 305-458-9654

Larry Elgarresta, M.D.
Radiology Associates of South Florida
786-596-5917 | 786-269-8565


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Baptist Health South Florida
Radiology Associates of South Florida
University of Miami Health System

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