Clinical laboratory managers and pathologists have an opportunity to expand the presence of laboratory medicine
IBM (NYSE: IBM) recently issued a press release announcing its new Watson Healthcare Advisory Board (WHAB). The board is comprised of healthcare leaders with a broad range of research, medical and business expertise. Unfortunately, that expertise does not include pathology or specialists in laboratory medicine.
“Watson represents a technology breakthrough that can help physicians improve patient outcomes,” said Herbert Chase, M.D., Professor of Clinical Medicine (in Biomedical Informatics) at Columbia University, in a recent IBM press release. “As IBM focuses its efforts on key areas including oncology, cardiology and other chronic diseases, the advisory board will be integral to helping align the business strategy to the specific needs of the industry.”
According to the release, board members will provide insights on healthcare issues that could be positively impacted by adoption of Watson technology. The five key areas that the new board will focus on include: (1) medical industry trends, (2) clinical imperatives, (3) regulatory considerations, (4) privacy concerns, and (5) patient and clinician expectations around the Watson technology and how it can be incorporated into clinician workflows.
New Watson Board Members Bring Broad Range of Expertise
The new WHAB members are:
- Charles J. Barnett, F.A.C.H.E., Ascension Health, President, Healthcare Operations and Chief Operating Officer.
- Michael S. Barr, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.P., American College of Physicians (ACP), Senior Vice President.
- Herbert Chase, M.D., Columbia University Faculty, Professor of Clinical Medicine (in Biomedical Informatics).
- Lynda Chin, M.D., University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Professor and Chair, Department of Genomic Medicine.
- Chris Coburn, Cleveland Clinic, Executive Director of Innovation.
- Douglas E. Henley, M.D., F.A.A.F.P., American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer.
- Michael K. Magill, M.D., Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine.
- Steven Shapiro, M.D., University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Chief Medical & Scientific Officer.
- David R. Spriggs, M.D., Head, Division of Solid Tumor Oncology; Vice Chair Experimental Therapeutics, Department of Medicine, Winthrop Rockefeller Chair of Medical Oncology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
The new board membership represents a broad range of expertise, including:
- cutting edge transformation in healthcare best practices,
- healthcare product and services innovation and development,
- diagnostic and disease management decision support technologies,
- integration of information technology and cancer genomic insights to impact patient clinical outcomes,
- corporate healthcare venture development,
- primary care delivery transformation,
- improvement of science- and technology-based models of clinical care,
- novel drug development, and
- healthcare operations.
Board Members Will Influence How Watson Technology Is Applied
The Watson computing technologies are currently being developed and commercialized by IBM in collaboration with the healthcare industry in order to help doctors and healthcare professionals improve diagnosis and treatment in areas such as chronic disease and oncology. The system can sift through large volumes of data from electronic medical records, family medical history, and the latest clinical research. It can then accurately extract medical facts and quickly understand relationships buried in that voluminous data to (1) help accelerate and improve clinical decisions, (2) reduce operational waste, and (3) enhance patient outcomes.
“IBM’s Watson technology has the potential to profoundly impact the quality of patient care by fundamentally transforming how medicine is taught, paid for and practiced,” commented Manoj Saxena, General Manager of IBM Watson Solutions. “The depth of leadership, talent and experience represented on the Watson Healthcare Advisory Board will be instrumental to advancing how IBM Watson technology is put to work in the healthcare industry.”
Unfortunately for pathologists and specialists in clinical laboratory medicine, the depths of that pool of leadership do not encompass that vital component of healthcare. Laboratory data is not only critical to diagnosis and therapeutic decisions, it makes up an essential and preponderant portion of the patient health record. Another note that pathologists and clinical laboratory managers might ponder is whether it might be appropriate for organizations, such as the College of American Pathologists (CAP), the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP), the Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) and other laboratory associations, to reach out to IBM and suggest the addition of a pathologist or lab scientist on the Watson board.
Fortunately, Basit Chaudhry, M.D., Ph. D., Senior Researcher, Clinical Transformation, Healthcare Analytics, at IBM Research, is among the many powerful speakers at the upcoming 2012 Executive War College Conference on Laboratory & Pathology Management, slated for May 1-3, in New Orleans.
—Pamela Scherer McLeod