My friend Paul Grundy has begun a blog on the IBM website, found here. In his first installment, he details the events of why, in part,  I am more optimistic about the future of American healthcare for having worked with him. In the first part of his entry, he identifies why IBM has more than an intellectual interest in health care:

With this information, [Watson, the IBM supercomputer] can suggest options targeted to a patient’s circumstances. This is an example of technology that can help physicians and nurses identify the most effective courses of treatment for their patients. And fast: in less than 3 seconds Watson can sift through the equivalent of about 200 million pages, evaluate the information, and provide precise responses. With medical information doubling every 5 years, advanced health analytic systems technologies can help improve patient care through the delivery of up- to-date, evidence-based health care.

The point he makes following this, though, is not that the computer will lead to a reduction in health costs by decreasing the need for human interaction. This data needs to be converted to actionable information. That is where IBM, the company that purchases health care, has taken the lead:

So, how to make sure this actionable information flows and is held accountable at the level of a healing relationship?With this question in mind, in 2006, IBM – as a buyer of care- hosted a meeting for 47 of the Fortune 100 buyers, TRICARE, the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM), buyers and the whole house of primary care. They agreed to guidelines now known as the Joint Principles of the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH).

This is how the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative got its start.From this group came many of the elements of care transformation included in the Affordable Care Act.

As you can see, Paul and IBM have influenced healthcare for the better and will continue to do so. If you have an interest in policy, specifically where its going as opposed to where it has been, I would advise you to pay attention to his thoughts.

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