IBM Watson invests $50M in AI research for health issues

IBM Watson Health is investing $50 million over 10 years in a joint research collaboration with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital aimed at using AI to solve major public health issues.

The research initiative will initially focus on applying AI to improve the utility of electronic health records (EHRs) and claims data to address health issues such as patient safety, precision medicine and health equity. It will also look at physician and patient user experience and interactions with AI technologies.

“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,” Kyu Rhee, MD, vice president and chief health officer at IBM Watson Health, said in a prepared statement.

“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.”

The research collaboration is an opportunity to advance the implementation of AI, clinical decision support and science into healthcare, according to David Bates, MD, chief of general internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School professor.

“We all know that the future of health belongs to AI but, today, health around the globe is siloed and not actionable making timely insights difficult to obtain,” Bates said in a statement. “Through AI, we have an opportunity to do better and our hope is to find new ways through science and partnerships with industry leaders like Watson Health to unlock the full potential of AI to improve the utility of the EHR and claims data to address major public health issues like patient safety.”

Earlier this year, IBM was awarded a grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to use AI and machine learning to better understand Parkinson’s disease.