‘This is a huge opportunity to solve these problems. IBM alone cannot solve them; we need a whole ecosystem.’
NEW ORLEANS – Talk of IBM Watson is everywhere these days, from legal realms to banking, academics and athletics. But the supercomputer is also changing the health care landscape with its cognitive computing capabilities and, more specifically, disrupting the aging process.
At the recent Home Health Technology Summit, Dr. Ruoyi Zhou, director of accessibility research at IBM, presented a session on “Outthinking Aging” and how the company is using technology to change the way health care is delivered to people as they age at home.
“The challenge is daunting,” said Zhou, reminding the audience that for the first time in human history people age 65 and older are surpassing the number of people age five and under. “Most technology is designed and evolved by the young—how do we design a world for this aging population?”
Zhou said some of the biggest challenges to health care for an aging population are the cost of care and loneliness.
“These two factors drive our research agenda,” said Zhou.
The company is leveraging Watson, robots, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, and developing brain-inspired computing to investigate how people can stay in their homes as they age, saving money for health care systems and insurers, and providing peace of mind and dignity to patients and caregivers.
Following partnerships with Apple and Japan Post Group, Rice University and Italian health care provider Solé Cooperativa, IBM announced in February a partnership with the Avamere Family of Companies that will apply the power of cognitive computing to help caregivers improve eldercare at senior living and health centers. Avamere provides a continuum of post-acute care to seniors in more than 40 independent living facilities.
Zhou said IBM has transformed itself from a closed company focused on programming to one that is transparent, inviting collaboration from all walks of life to solve the problems facing an aging population.
“This is a huge opportunity to solve these problems,” she said. “IBM alone cannot solve them, we need a whole ecosystem.