Advancing the application of artificial intelligence to health

A collaboration between Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Vanderbilt University Medical Center looks to advance the application of AI in health…


A 10 year, $50 million investment has been announced by IBM Watson Health to further research collaboration with two separate academic centres; Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which is a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The project looks to advance the science of artificial intelligence (AI) and its application to health issues. These collaborations focus on critical health problems faced, and those that are ideally suited for AI solutions. These solutions include improving the utility of electronic health records, claims data, patients safety, precision medicine and health equity. 

“Building on the MIT-IBM Watson Lab announced last year, this collaboration will include contributions from IBM Watson Health’s longstanding commitment to scientific research and our belief that working together with the world’s leading institutions is the fastest path to develop, advance, and understand practical solutions that solve some of the world’s biggest health challenges,” said Vice President Kyu Rhee, Chief Health Officer at IBM Watson Health

“Today, for example, physicians are spending an average of two hours with their electronic health records and deskwork for every hour of patient care, a phenomenon the American Medical Association says is leading to a steady increase in physician burnout. AI is the most powerful technology we have today to tackle issues like this one, but there is still a great deal of work to be done to demystify the real role of AI in healthcare with practical, proven results and clear-cut best practices. By putting the full force of our clinical and research team together with two of the world’s leading academic medical centers, we will dramatically accelerate the development of real-world AI solutions that improve workflow efficiencies and outcomes.”

Dr Gretchen Purcell Jackson, IBM Watson Health’s newly appointed vice president and chief science officer, said: “IBM Watson Health has had a long history of leading in scientific research. These collaborations give our scientists at IBM Watson Health the opportunity to work with some of the best health informatics researchers in the world to advance the field in the areas of artificial intelligence, clinical decision support, and implementation science.

“Medical data is expected to double every 73 days by 2020. As a practicing surgeon, I often had to make critical decisions about children’s lives without time to dig for information buried in electronic health records or sift through thousands of studies in the literature. Our collaborative research will unlock new insights that affect broad health stakeholders: from providers, payers, governments, and life science companies to ultimately the most important stakeholder, patients, and seek to improve health around the globe.”

Dr Johnson added: “I have committed my career to using health information technologies to deliver precision medicine, promote health equity, and understand the human-machine interface and opportunities to improve public health. As the largest biomedical informatics department in the U.S., we have been a longstanding leader in understanding the role and potential of new technologies like AI. We are excited to work with a leader like IBM Watson Health and we look forward to expanding the relationship as Watson Health continues to grow.”