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Paddy Padmanabhan

The Jeopardy of IBM Watson Health

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Monday, February 22, 2021

Issue 102


Exactly 10 years ago, IBM’s Watson supercomputer made news by beating Ken Jennings to win jeopardy on national television, earning a grand prize of $1 million. The public gasped, executives high-fived, and tech publications gushed over the emergence of a new era where machines could possibly replace humans in various occupations, including healthcare. This past week, WSJ reported IBM is throwing in the towel and is exploring a sale of the troubled Watson Health business.

In healthcare and medicine, AI has struggled partly because historical data is at best a limited guide to the future when diagnosing and treating patients, especially so as the conditions become more complex, as in cancer care. Watson Health aimed to take on cancer care with a supercomputer and experienced at least one high-profile failure with MD Anderson Health which was a setback not just for IBM but for the idea of AI in healthcare. Further, as Casey Ross at Stat News has written more recently, incomplete or insufficient data may also increase disparities, as he has discovered with FDA-approved algorithms for breast cancer. None of this is a repudiation of the potential for AI to improve healthcare outcomes. I see these more as scientific stepping stones and have never been more optimistic about AI in healthcare.

This week, I am speaking at two events, one of which is a HIMSS webinar I am moderating on the 25th titled Digital Health, Big Data, and What Pharma Learned from COVID-19. Where there is data, there is information security risk – which is what I will be discussing on a webinar hosted by our partner Paubox on the 24th. Hope to see you there.

In my latest podcasts, I interview Harry Fox, Board Chair at Whitman-Walker Health, and Katherine Lusk, President / Board Chair at AHIMA. Take a listen.

Have a great week. 



Podcasts of the Week

In this episode, Katherine Lusk discusses how AHIMA works at the intersection of healthcare and technology to empower patients with their health information, and ensures to keep the data accurate, accessible, and safe.

In this episode, Harry Fox discusses his role at Whitman-Walker Health (WWH) and how as a community-based health center they are serving a diverse patient population with technology disparity and making healthcare inclusive for everyone.


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This Week in Digital Health Markets

We are selectively featuring guest posts in our newsletter from senior leaders in healthcare and technology. Reach out to us if you would like to contribute a blog to one of our upcoming newsletters.

International Business Machines Corp is exploring a potential sale of its IBM Watson Health business, as the technology giant’s new chief executive moves to streamline the company and become more competitive in cloud computing. The Wall Street JournalThe Wall Street Journal

Terry Myerson, who was once dubbed “the most important man at Microsoft,” is now leading an equally bold –and treacherous – second act: He is the newly minted Chief Executive of Truveta. Stat News 

I share my initial thoughts on the recently announced Truveta initiative is this article. Fierce Healthcare

The health system was conducting around 25 to 50 virtual visits a day; at the height of the pandemic, that rose to nearly 8,000. It worked with Cisco, Apple and others for clinician-to-clinician video. Healthcare IT News

Helio Health in Syracuse, New York, treats patients with substance use disorder and behavioral health issues. Many times, these patients have exacerbating conditions on the medical side. On top of those, there is a COVID-19 threat for both staff and patients. Healthcare IT News 

Google is opening a new office in Rochester, Minnesota, to bolster its long-term partnership with academic medical giant Mayo Clinic. Healthcare Dive

Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s accelerator has selected seven health tech startups to join its newest class. Becker’s Hospital Review 

Humana is launching a pilot for a new, tech-enabled chronic care management platform that will harness enhanced data analytics to create an integrated, personalized experience for members. Fierce Healthcare

Walter Isaacson’s upcoming book on CRISPR promises to be just as engaging as all his previous books. Catch an excerpt here. Wall Street Journal

Note: Some of the articles linked in this newsletter may be behind paywalls that need a subscription.



2 days to go! 

Join Paddy Padmanabhan in an interactive webinar by Paubox – Tips to Improve Email Security for Your Practice. Learn how to intercept phishing attacks, key trends evolving in the email threat landscape, and how to improve the user experience for your patients.

Event details: February 24 | 12:00 pm CT

Register here.

3 days to go!  

Join Paddy Padmanabhan on the HIMSS webinar – Digital Health, Big Data, and What Pharma Learned from COVID-19 to learn what the digital ecosystem looked like for pharma before COVID and how it may change post-pandemic to accelerate product development and enhance patient centricity.

Event details: February 25 | 01:00 pm CT

Register here.


Damo Consulting Thought Leadership and Research

Damo Consulting’s DigiMTM model is a framework that describes the different stages of digital maturity in the specific context of health systems. The framework is supported by an automated online evaluation tool that scores the digital programs of individual health systems and provides benchmarks to drive incremental investments and roadmap execution priorities.

Telehealth is at across roads. Here are three things health systems must consider before investing further in telehealth technology.

This research paper, based on focus group discussions with CHIME members, discusses the challenges with digital transformation for mid-tier health systems and what CIOs must do to accelerate digital transformation in their organizations.


Damo Bulletin Board 

Shantanu Nigam joins Damo Consulting Board of Advisors 

Read more.

Damo Consulting offers branding solutions for technology firms looking to gain visibility and access to healthcare executives and CXOs. 

Contact us now! 

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Join the digital healthcare revolution. Stay on top of the latest news, trends, and insights with Damo Consulting.

Sign me up for the latest news, trends, and insights from Damo.


Join the digital healthcare revolution. Stay on top of the latest news, trends, and insights with Damo Consulting.