IBM Watson Health (NYSE:IBM) is pushing back against reports that its artificial intelligence powered products deliver less than promised, claiming that the reports are unfair and ignore its capabilities.
A number of news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal and STAT News, have recently published criticisms of IBM’s Watson Health offerings, claiming that its capabilities fall short of the company’s large promises.
“Unfortunately, some media reports, including an August 11th story published in The Wall Street Journal, distort and ignore facts when suggesting IBM has not made ‘enough’ progress on bringing the benefits of AI to healthcare. I feel it is imperative to set the record straight,” IBM Watson Health cognitive solutions senior VP Dr. John Kelly III wrote in a blog post for the company.
In a report from STAT News released last month, investigators obtained internal documents from IBM Watson Health that the outlet said show that the company’s Watson for Oncology product often returns “multiple examples of unsafe and incorrect treatment recommendations.”
“We have always believed that the role of technology is to assist a doctor in delivering better care and patient outcomes. Therefore, the first question we asked ourselves was, ‘can Watson help oncologists make better decisions for their patients?’ Repeatedly, the answer has proven to be a resounding ‘yes,’ as demonstrated in both peer-reviewed research as well as regular feedback from those using these tools,” Kelly wrote.
Kelly said that across its offerings, IBM Watson Health has programs in use at 230 hospitals and health organizations globally, with 84,000 patients making use of the product during the first six months of the year so far.
Reports have claimed that patients have not benefited from the use of Watson’s programs at hospitals and healthcare centers, but Kelly argues that evidence speaks otherwise.
In response to the claims, Kelly noted a number of positives for the company, including a Mayo Clinic poster presentation showing improved enrollment in breast cancer trials following implementation of Watson for Clinical Trial Matching and training from Memorial Sloan Kettering on 13 different cancers, which he says represents 80% of the global cancer incidence and prevalence.
Kelly also noted an extended contract with the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, research showing that its Watson for Genomics found new actionable mutations in 32% of patients and high rates of concordance in breast cancer at Manipal Hospital’s multidisciplinary tumor board.
“IBM has never shied away from grand challenges, and we know they don’t happen overnight and are not easy. Whether it’s the creation of the world’s first commercial computer, putting man on the moon, or more recently developing the fastest and smartest supercomputer on the planet, we go all in,” Kelly said.
Kelly went on to state that the company’s work is “only getting started,” and that it stays steadfast in its goals.
In June, IBM’s Watson Health operation was reported to be cutting back on the portion of its business that sells to hospitals due to a softening market for value-based healthcare offerings.
Steve MacMillan took over as CEO of Hologic in 2013, drawing on his experience at medtech titans like Stryker and Johnson & Johnson. Since then, Hologic has grown into a $3 billion business.
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