Dallas-based Methodist Health System will use analytics and decision support software from health care supply chain vendor MD Buyline that includes the cognitive computing abilities of the IBM Watson supercomputer.

MD Buyline is one of three initial partners of IBM developing early versions of new apps using Watson that are expected to enter the market in 2014. IBM in November announced the Watson Developers Cloud, making the technology available as a cloud-based development platform.

Now, Methodist Health System and MD Buyline will collaborate to identify structured and unstructured data from Methodist’s financial and clinical information systems and MD Buyline’s database of more than 30 years of data--including pricing benchmarks for medical devices, equipment and services--that can be used to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of care, says Douglas Taylor, a product manager at MD Buyline.

For instance, Methodist can marry operational and outcomes data to determine the 30-day readmission rates for patients treated with specific devices and equipment, such as a CT scanner. Using data from both organizations to determine why a readmission rate is high, the delivery system can learn if a physician followed correct surgical or discharge procedures, or if a device such as a pacemaker did not operate optimally. Combining pricing and clinical data will enable analyses of procedures to determine if the hospital is getting the best value for equipment that has demonstrated a high level of quality.

Bringing Watson’s natural language processing capabilities to MD Buyline’s Hippocrates analytics platform will enable users to ask Hippocrates a question in human speech, and Hippocrates will ask Watson to use hypotheses and evidence-based learning to generate a list of confidence-weighted answers, according to the organizations.

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