Man and Machine; IBM Watson Health

Harnessing the power of data and technology to make a seamless partnership between man and machine less scary

We live in an environment of abundance which only breeds anxiety. We can use data to fuel insights, which in turn, creates work that actually “works”. During the M.6 conference on “Partnerability” hosted by Digitas Health and Publicis Health Media, we heard from Shahram Ebadollahi, Vice President, Innovations & Chief Science Officer, IBM Watson Health Group, who oversees development, solutions, and partnerships for IBM Watson Health. 

Watson is a form of cognitive technology, or “Augmented Intelligence,” as Shahram calls it. While humans are at the forefront of fueling Watson with a wealth of data, Watson has the ability to organically develop continuous insights and build expertise within a particular field–including healthcare. Watson has made considerable strides in areas such as device/tech, oncology, genomics, and clinical trial monitoring.

So how does the success of these innovations that combine technology and human interaction all come together? Powerful partnerships. Shahram looks for three guiding principles when evaluating an ideal partnership for Watson Health: organizational alignment, mutual commitment, and understanding boundaries. Shahram feels that these traits can yield the most impactful outcomes, holistically changing the way we think about healthcare. That said, the value that Watson delivers can only be as good as the players who collaborate with each other to fuel it.

One powerful partnership that Shahram described was the one between IBM and Medtronic to help treat patients with diabetes. Together, the companies programmed Watson to generate insights based on glucose levels. It uses these levels to provide a form of predictability modeling, which in turn can help patients avoid hyperglycemic events.

With Watson, IBM has found a way to marry man and machine–to take data curated by man and employ technology to generate outcomes that can produce results and improve a patient’s quality of life.