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IBM Watson Works to Standardize Clinical Terms for Analytics

IBM Watson Health adopts SNOMED CT to support the standardization of clinical data.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- IBM Watson Health announced that it will adopt SNOMED CT (clinical terms) for use in Watson Health solutions in an attempt to standardize Watson deployments for healthcare organizations worldwide.

SNOMED CT is an international standard for clinical terminology. By adopting it as a standard for Watson Health, IBM intends to ease the exchange of clinical information and EHRs through a universal codified language.

“For example,” IBM Watson Health explained in a statement, “a medical professional can enter the term 'myocardial infarction' into an electronic medical record in multiple ways—as myocardial infarction disorder, cardiac infarction, heart attack, myocardial infarction, and myocardial intact.”

By integrating SNOMED CT into Watson Health, health IT systems can recognize and relate those terms and link them via a common SNOMED CT code. This allows Watson to efficiently and comprehensively identify all references to terms across different types of data from various health systems.

"SNOMED's agreement with IBM Watson Health breaks new ground," SNOMED International CEO Don Sweete said in a statement. "Imagine the impact of feeding SNOMED CT's 325,000+ concepts into Watson's cognitive capabilities. The possibilities for clients, and the healthcare industry in general, are almost limitless."

IBM Watson Vice President Lisa Rometty stated that Watson chose SNOMED CT because it presents clinically-relevant concepts and modifiers providing a consistent “global language of healthcare.”

"Standardizing our offerings on SNOMED CT supports our efforts to provide customers and collaborators with clear information to help clinicians as they consider medical decisions and support the efficient delivery of quality care," Rometty said.

Watson will have a much easier way of making connections and making it easier for data to be shared between health IT resources by adopting a standard language. As Watson Health’s reach grows further, the standard language will make interoperability between different healthcare organizations more streamlined and easier to manage.

The adoption of a universal language isn’t IBM Watson Health’s first attempt to create a standard technology.

Earlier this year, IBM Watson Health entered a collaboration with the FDA to research a standardized healthcare blockchain technology for efficient and scalable data exchange.

IBM and the FDA will evaluate the use of blockchain technology in the exchange of owner-mediated data from sources including EHRs, clinical trials, genomic data, and health data collected from mobile devices such as wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The collaboration will study new ways healthcare organizations can leverage large volumes of diverse data produced and collected. IBM suggested that a secure owner-mediated data sharing ecosystem could potentially assist in new discoveries and improved public health.

IBM Watson has also developed its IoT Consulting Solutions practice assisting Watson users adapting to the IoT.

The IBM Watson IoT Consulting Solutions practice will employ a global network of consultants, data scientists, design, and security experts with industry expertise, dedicated to guide clients challenged by industry specific IoT adoption.

IBM hopes to assist clients in fully using the IoT without the complexity of dealing with multiple vendors. IBM Watson’s IoT Platform APIs and technologies include cognitive, analytics, mobile, security and cloud capabilities.

The growth of the healthcare IoT largely contributes to the amount of unstructured data currently sitting in data lakes untapped. Too many different devices are constantly communicating with healthcare networks in ways that cannot be easily examined.

By introducing the IoT into their health IT infrastructure, organizations can collect and eventually leverage the unstructured data being collected.

IBM Watson Health is contributing to the future of intelligent data exchange and integration of EHR data with other resources by working to standardize different aspects of health IT infrastructure.


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