Exploring cognitive solutions for healthcare challenges in Greater Manchester
21 Nov 2016



The Hartree Centre recently hosted an event for several North West healthcare organisations to investigate the potential for cognitive computing technologies solving challenges in this vital sector.




On 17 November 2016, representatives from Greater Manchester Academic Health Science Network (GM AHSN), Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC) and Greater Manchester and NHS Eastern Cheshire Strategic Clinical Networks visited the Hartree Centre in the first of a series of events designed to unlock the potential for cognitive computing technologies in healthcare.

The immersive lab was first event of its kind and brought together researchers, clinicians, patient advocates and youth workers to understand the power of cognitive technologies, such as IBM Watson. Attendees were given a demonstration of current and planned applications for the technology.

The group were specifically looking for opportunities where the IBM Watson platform could be applied to optimise educational and employment opportunities for young people with long term health conditions in Greater Manchester. The consensus of the day was that the organisations involved should adopt a holistic approach, looking at data from across health, education, employment and social care sectors to address the identified challenges.

One aim of this collaboration will be to use the data available more effectively, by breaking down divisions between the different parts of the healthcare system and creating a fuller picture of the issues faced by young people. Following the identification of these issues, it will be possible to establish research themes.

Dr Janet McDonagh, Senior Lecturer in Paediatric and Adolescent Rheumatology, MAHSC and University of Manchester said: “We needed to get the right people around the table to look at the health economy in Greater Manchester, as it relates to young people in the 10-24 year old age group to look at the challenges of healthcare provision and patient outcomes including social and vocational outcomes. We want to leverage as much benefit as possible from cognitive technologies and scale out what we might achieve to other areas of healthcare.

“By first understanding the capabilities of IBM Watson technology, this will enable the collaboration to identify future areas of research and go on to evaluate the effectiveness of whole-system decision making.”

The event was brought about by joint working between MAHSC’s Adolescent and Young Adult Health Improvement Team and GM AHSN. A strategic design board has been formed to discuss how cognitive computing and technologies such as IBM Watson could generate impact in the area of child and adolescent health care, and future workshops are planned to stimulate useful conversations, identify opportunities for co-working and develop this project further.