"Artificial intelligence presents a grand frontier for healthcare, as long as it is married to medical excellence. Cognitive computing is only as good as the data that goes in and the experts that interpret what comes out.”
The National Cancer Institute estimates that nearly 40% of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. By 2024, an estimated 19 million people will be living with a cancer diagnosis. Those astounding numbers also lay bare an inconvenient truth: that tens of millions of Americans are forced into a maze of uncertainty and options in a complicated healthcare system. Interestingly, leading technology brands, forward-thinking employers, health plans, and clinicians are stepping in to help fill those gaps with innovation and better options. One option that is opening new possibilities for the care of complex cases is cognitive computing, also known as artificial intelligence (AI).
In 2016, Best Doctors (now a division of Teladoc) announced a major partnership with IBM and its cognitive computing service, Watson, to use the power of data to help patients find the right treatment option. By bringing together leading technology and the brightest minds in medicine, the two brands have been able to transform the way people deal with a cancer diagnosis by ensuring that the right diagnosis is confirmed and that the right treatment plan is enacted.
A significant and concerning reality makes this partnership even more compelling: with the numerous 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. 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 being offered by the Teladoc and Best Doctors together with Watson 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. Quality and expertise are the powerful differentiator. Only with a focus on medical excellence can artificial intelligence achieve its incredible potential.