IBM says that the hottest growth area for the company is analytics. Putting their money where their mouth is, IBM has has invested $12 billion in analytics since 2005 and one of the major focus areas of the analytics thrust is healthcare. The strategy may not only make money for IBM but likely will also save lives.
IBM has been collaborating with the Mayo Clinic for many years. The latest of many breakthroughs by the two is an important advance in the early detection of brain aneurysms — a lethal condition that is not so uncommon. The technique they have devised combines the latest brain scan technology with analytics to catch a critical condition far sooner than previously possible. The joint project has examined more than 15 million images from thousands of patients.
Traditionally, a patient suspected of having a brain aneurysm due to a stroke or traumatic injury would undergo an invasive test using a catheter that injects dye into the body — a technique which itself has non-trivial risks. The new IBM – Mayo process uses non-invasive MRI angiography to create “automatic reads” that run detection algorithms immediately following a scan.The instant the MRI images are acquired, they are automatically routed to servers in the Mayo – IBM Medical Imaging Informatics Innovation Center where supercomputer algorithms analyze the images to locate and mark potential aneurysms so that specially trained radiologists can conduct a further and final analysis. The automated aneurysm detection can be done in three to five minutes — a potentially life saving difference from the traditional approach.