Cleveland Clinic and IBM are entering a five-year agreement to expand the Clinic's health information technology capabilities.
IBM will bring design and security expertise, as well as support for a portion of the Clinic's technology infrastructure and operations.
The Clinic expects some impact on jobs "as skills, processes, and technologies are applied that improve the efficiency of the operations," Doug Smith, the Clinic's interim chief information officer, said in a statement.
The Clinic's previous CIO, Dr. C. Martin Harris, is now the chief business officer and associate vice president of the health enterprise at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin.
More details on what exactly the Clinic and IBM partnership will entail are expected in the first quarter of 2017.
Though the two have worked together for decades, this is the first such agreement. For one, it expands the Clinic's use of IBM's secured cloud, social, mobile and Watson cognitive computing technologies. They are also exploring advanced capabilities such as using Watson in clinical and non-clinical operations.
The agreement is initially focused on supporting the Clinic's infrastructure, Smith said, but over time it will allow the system to expand capabilities.
"We also see this relationship as accretive to IBM from the context and expertise provided by the Cleveland Clinic," he said.
The infrastructure teams in the IT department currently do some of the work. Although the Clinic hasn't indicated how exactly this will impact jobs — and how many, Smith said, "We are committed to providing our staff with every opportunity to apply for other positions within the Clinic or with our partners, and where applicable will offer training and mentorship to those who are interested in expanding their skill sets."
Through the partnership, the goal is to better capture the value of data and enhance patient care across the system's hospitals and family health centers.
The new technology implementation aims to allow for efficient data analysis of electronic health records, information from administrative claims and social determinants of health, according to a news release. This also allows for personalized clinical care as well as broader population management.
They aim to establish a model for health systems transitioning to work in population health and value-based care.
"This initiative with IBM is mutually beneficial and will significantly advance our IT capabilities, which are increasingly important to provide the best care to patients as healthcare becomes more and more technology dependent," Dr. Toby Cosgrove, CEO and president of Cleveland Clinic, said in a statement. "With the explosion of data in healthcare, the technology solutions we will develop and implement together could transform our ability to deliver quality, evidence-based care and better respond to the needs of our patients, caregivers and partners."
After Watson won Jeopardy!, IBM and the Clinic joined forces in 2011 to train the technology to "think" like a doctor, according to a release. In 2013, IBM started collaborating with faculty, physicians and students at the Clinic to develop a Watson electronic medical record assistant to help quickly summarize and cull insights from records. In 2015, IBM acquired Explorys, a health care intelligence cloud company developed by Clinic physicians and IT experts.
The Clinic also piloted Watson in the area of genomics for research into new cancer treatments based on the genetic makeup of patients. The Clinic also announced Watson would be used to teach students in part of the new $515 million Health Education Campus opening in 2019 through a joint partnership with Case Western Reserve University.
The new collaboration with IBM will allow physicians at the Clinic to give Watson challenges that will help train computer's capabilities to support clinical care and administrative tasks.
"For the past five years, Cleveland Clinic has been central to IBM's effort to build Watson's cognitive capabilities in healthcare," Deborah DiSanzo, general manager of IBM Watson Health, said in a news release. "Now, together, we will bring cognitive computing and an entire portfolio of IBM technology offerings to transform clinical care and administrative operations across the Cleveland Clinic, and help its renowned care providers deliver evidence-based, personalized and cognitive care to the individual patients they serve and the populations they manage."
"Cleveland Clinic inks five-year agreement with IBM" originally appeared in Crain's Cleveland Business.