Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Sunday, September 24, 2023

UNC Health Care Selects IBM Analytics for Patient Care 

IBM today announced that UNC Health Care (UNCHC) has turned to Smarter Care big data analytics to offer its patients more effective and individualized care.

With stacks of physicians notes, registration forms, discharge papers and phone calls, it’s easy to understand why many hospitals and doctors’ offices are struggling to keep up with their own data. According to IBM, over 80 percent of healthcare institutions’ data today is unstructured, and often goes unused. And with medical literature doubling every five years, that number is only poised to go up.

Smarter Care should help to parse through this information, however, by using natural-language processing similar to that used in Watson to allow it to communicate with Jeopardy!’s Alex Trebek and Ken Jennings. With this tool in hand, UNCHC should be able to use structured and unstructured data alike to identify high-risk patients, understand the cause of their condition, and customize the more effective treatment plan.

The IBM offering combines content management and analytics with cognitive capabilities, healthcare-specific tools, and the company’s big data platform to cut down on the time necessary to separate meaningful data from information that is currently slowing healthcare workers down.

“IBM Content Analytics allows us to quickly transform raw information into healthcare insights,” said Dr. Carlton Moore, associate professor of medicine at UNCHC. “It can reveal trends, patterns and devíations while predicting the probability of outcomes so that we can make decisions in minutes versus weeks or months.”

Previously, UNCHC used IBM Content Analytics to mine data for mammograms, cancer and pneumonia screenings. But with Smarter Care, the healthcare organization will expand their focus to include faster follow-ups for abnormal cancer screenings, reducing 30-day readmissions, and engaging more patients.

Although physicians work as quickly as possible to contact patients with abnormal test results, this a priority with Smarter Care because these follow-ups are often delayed as the hospital sifts through electronic medical record data to find the information they need. Content Analytics, however, can quickly and easily extract this information and generate medical alerts to inform physicians that they need to contact their patient right away.

UNCHC says that based on the success of these programs, they also expect to apply Content Analytics to help those suffering from diabetes and other chronic illnesses.