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IBM R&D Labs in Israel

image: IBM and Haifa

The Future of Healthcare

IBM Research - Haifa centennial colloquium investigates the transformation of doctor-patient decision-making

Oded Cohn
Oded Cohn, Director IBM Research - Haifa

The introduction of so much new digital medical information is transforming the decision-making process in the healthcare ecosystem. Patients often seek out information before they speak to a doctor, and clinicians are using computers to help with diagnosis or with the selection of treatment options. In short, what used to be an intimate doctor-patient twosome has now become a threesome: the doctor-patient-computer triangle. But do all three entities in this new relationship have an equal say in what decisions are made?

IBM Research – Haifa hosted a healthcare colloquium in honor of IBM's centennial year, convening thought leaders from the healthcare community to discuss this new transformation and its implications for the future. This event concluded the colloquia series, which engaged in total more than 1,500 clients, academics, public policy makers, and other leaders. 

Three's company

"I strongly believe there is no other single industry or area of society that can benefit more from technology and IT advancements than healthcare," noted Oded Cohn, director of IBM Research – Haifa, in his opening remarks. "Many health problems and their solutions are basically information coded in our genes. When it comes to more effectively diagnosing and treating health issues, the ability to collect and analyze massive amounts of data is critical. And our potential to bring about smarter healthcare by combining advanced data analytics with medical practices is huge.

The day's events featured a keynote address by Dan Pelino, worldwide general manager of IBM Healthcare and Life Science, and talks on the transformation of the decision-making process in healthcare by Prof. Jonathan Halevy of Shaaeri Zedek Medical Center and Prof. Dieter Enzmann, Chair of Radiology at UCLA. The audience also enjoyed talks on the evolution of medicine through genetic insight by Dr. Itsik Peer of Columbia University and Boaz Carmeli of IBM Research – Haifa. The program included a lively panel discussion on the doctor-patient-computer team and a riveting demo of Watson healthcare.

Perspective on the past and vision for the future

Dan Pelino
Dan Pelino, GM Healthcare and Life Sciences
"I hope that you take away a perspective of our past, but more importantly a vision for the future," noted Dan Pelino, as he zeroed in on IBM's centennial messages. "These are the efforts underway to improve the healthcare ecosystem for consumers, patients, citizens, payers, and governments in our quest as a society for health and wellness.

The lab in Haifa has been home to some outstanding examples of smarter healthcare. In fact, researchers in Israel pioneered some of the first IBM projects in the areas of information-based medicine, standards for medical data, interoperability for medical imaging, and clinical genomic analytics. Today, the lab specializes in research related to the integration of vast amounts of medical information and gaining insight from this data by enabling access and sharing.

Scientists in Haifa developed an online system that provides clinicians with a prediction of which drug or drug cocktail will be the best for treating a given patient infected with a specific HIV virus. In another project, researchers created a secure web-based system that allows public health institutions and centers for disease control to electronically share public health data—even across geographical and political borders in the Middle East.

healthcare colloquium panel
Panel discussion:
Prof. Eddy Karnieli, Koby Vortman,
Yardena Peres, Shmuel Reiss, Dan Pelino
(left to right)
Another project reinvents the patient portal, enabling patients to integrate and manage their healthcare data for all medical needs, receive personalized recommendations or alerts for safer medical treatment, and immediately access data from a vast range of sources.

Yet even with the support of the most sophisticated technology, noted Prof. Halevy, the foundation of the doctor-patient relationship remains unchanged. "There is still no substitute for face-to-face encounters between physicians and their patients. The doctor will never be optional."

IBM has already done so much in the medical world, but with today's focus on information, we can contribute even more. New advances in analytics are helping us gain benefits from the different types of medical data available. By turning these vast amounts of data into useful information and insights, we can make better decisions, save money, be healthier, and live longer.


IBM at 100

Throughout 2011, IBM is hosting colloquia discussions and a series of lectures exploring how the world has changed in the past 100 years—and how it will change in the decades ahead.

A glimpse into the healthcare colloquium

Visit the photo gallery from the IBM Reseach - Haifa 2011 Healthcare Colloquium.

Building a smarter planet

The new doctor-patient-computer triad help build better healthcare, Why not give doctors some computing intelligence to help improve their results?

Your IBM expert

Haim Nelken, Manager, Integration Technologies, IBM Research

: Manager, Integration Technologies, IBM Research

Aya Soffer, Director, Information Management Analytics, IBM Research

: Director, Information Management Analytics, IBM Research

Pnina Vortman, Smarter Planet Solutions Lead, Senior Mgr., IBM Research

: Smarter Planet Solutions Lead, Senior Mgr., IBM Research