A Gulf War veteran, Brian Book is the president of Book Zurman, Inc., a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) that has partnered with IBM. Brian is leading a team that is a finalist in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Care Coordination Challenge for Improved Outcomes. Without revealing too much about the team’s final submission due on Nov. 23, Brian sat down with Smarter Planet to discuss the role of cognitive and cloud. Below is a summary of that conversation.
Smarter Plant: What is the VA’s Care Coordination Challenge?
Brian Book: Veterans receiving care interact with facilities inside and outside of the VA often involving multiple specialists, clinicians and other personnel. Establishing a single treatment plan across all these providers has proven to be an elusive challenge, but one the VA views as critical to enabling better treatment plans and outcomes. The VA is seeking potential solutions from industry, researchers, developers and others to “create algorithms (methods, processes and/or tools) for identifying redundancies, gaps, conflicts, and interactions among care-plan items and other data.” After the first competitive round, our team is one of five finalists.
SP: Why partner with IBM?
BB: We’ve collaborated with IBM on a number of opportunities, and we saw this challenge as a chance to help tie the latest innovations, especially in cognitive and cloud, combined with open source capabilities, to help the VA solve what is a real challenge in the care of millions of veterans.
We see Watson and Bluemix [IBM’s Platform as a Service (PaaS)] as innovations that only IBM can deliver, and allow us to integrate and understand data in a way that was never before possible. And with Watson, we can throw cognitive into the mix, providing potential for the VA to not only set up a system to ingest and make sense of all the data, but also continuously learn from the data thereby helping clinicians provide better care.
In addition, IBM has a long history working with the VA, helping the agency adopt industry standards and other capabilities that set the framework for the Model Driven Health Tools (MDHT) that are in use today, and the foundation for much of the work that is spearheaded by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT.
And on the Watson front, IBM began working with the VA on a clinical reasoning assessment on the potential use of the cognitive platform in helping clinicians work with PTSD patients. There’s quite a bit there to leverage in coming up with a real solution for the VA around better outcomes.
SP: Without tipping your fellow finalists off, what can you say about your team’s submission?
BB: I can tell you that it involves Watson and Bluemix, and a workable demo. Details on our submission are in development and under wraps.
ASP: What are the critical success factors for the VA?
BB: Submissions that are not just conceptual, but well thought out and can actually be piloted and implemented. Of all the criteria, the VA is placing the most weight on the potential to solve coordination issues and integrate data from the VA and outside providers, followed by the ability to show theoretical examples of the solution in use in clinical environments.