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Cedars-Sinai's Samuel Oschin Cancer Center Joins WellPoint in Developing Health Care Solutions

New offerings will use IBM's Watson technology to assist physicians with diagnosis and treatment options

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., Dec.16, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- WellPoint announced today that the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute will provide clinical expertise to help shape WellPoint's new health care solutions that will utilize IBM's Watson technology.

WellPoint announced plans in September to develop the first commercial application utilizing IBM Watson to help improve patient care and support physicians in their efforts to make the most informed, personalized treatment decisions possible. It is estimated that new clinical research and medical information doubles every five years, and nowhere is this knowledge advancing more quickly than in the complex area of cancer care.

WellPoint believes oncology is one of the medical fields that could greatly benefit from this technology, given IBM Watson's ability to respond to inquiries posed in natural language and to learn from the responses it generates. The WellPoint health care solutions will draw from vast libraries of information including medical evidence-based scientific and health care data, and clinical insights from institutions like Cedars-Sinai. The goal is to assist physicians in evaluating evidence-based treatment options that can be delivered to the physician in a matter of seconds for assessment. WellPoint and Cedars-Sinai envision that this valuable enhancement to the decision-making process could empower physician-patient discussions about the best and most effective courses of treatment and improve the overall quality of patient care.

Cedars-Sinai was selected as WellPoint's partner based on its reputation as one of the nation's premier cancer institutions and its proven results in the diagnosis and treatment of complex cancers. Cedars-Sinai has experience and demonstrated success in working with technology innovators and shares WellPoint's commitment to improving the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of health care through innovation and technology.

Cedars-Sinai's oncology experts will help develop recommendations on appropriate clinical content for the WellPoint health care solutions. They will also assist in the evaluation and testing of the specific tools that WellPoint plans to develop for the oncology field utilizing IBM's Watson technology. The Cedars-Sinai cancer experts will enter hypothetical patient scenarios, evaluate the proposed treatment options generated by IBM Watson, and provide guidance on how to improve the content and utility of the treatment options provided to the physicians.

Leading Cedars-Sinai's efforts is M. William Audeh, M.D., medical director of its Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. Dr. Audeh will work closely with WellPoint's clinical experts to provide advice on how the solutions may be best utilized in clinical practice to support increased understanding of the evolving body of knowledge in cancer, including emerging therapies not widely known by community physicians. As the solutions are developed, Dr. Audeh will also provide guidance on how the make the WellPoint offering useful and practical for physicians and patients.

"As we design the WellPoint systems that leverage IBM Watson's capabilities, it is essential that we incorporate the highly-specialized knowledge and real-life practice experiences of the nation's premier clinical experts," said Harlan Levine, MD, executive vice president of WellPoint's Comprehensive Health Solutions. "The contributions from Dr. Audeh, coupled with the expertise throughout Cedars-Sinai's Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, will be invaluable to implementing this WellPoint offering and could ultimately benefit millions of Americans across the country."

"There are many aspects to providing the highest quality care to cancer patients, and innovative technology such as this can be a very important aid to physicians," Audeh said. "Cedars-Sinai is very pleased to be working with WellPoint on this very promising project."

WellPoint anticipates deploying their first offering next year, working with select physician groups in clinical pilots.

About WellPoint, Inc.

WellPoint works to simplify the connection between Health, Care and Value. We help to improve the health of our members and our communities, and provide greater value to our customers and shareholders. WellPoint is one of the nation's largest health benefits companies, with 34 million members in its affiliated health plans, and a total of more than 66 million individuals served through its subsidiaries. As an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, WellPoint serves members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), and Wisconsin. In a majority of these service areas, WellPoint's plans do business as Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, or Empire Blue Cross (in the New York service areas). WellPoint also serves customers throughout the country as UniCare. Additional information about WellPoint is available at http://www.wellpoint.com/.

About Cedars-Sinai

Cedars-Sinai is one of the largest not-for-profit academic medical centers in the nation, renowned for the highest quality patient care, and for its innovative research and education programs. It is consistently named one of America's Best Hospitals by U.S. News and World Report, with 12 specialties ranked in 2011. For more than two decades, Cedars-Sinai has been voted Los Angeles' Most Preferred Hospital by participants in National Research Corporation's independent survey of L.A. residents.

SAFE HARBOR STATEMENT UNDER THE PRIVATE SECURITIES LITIGATION REFORM ACT OF 1995

This press release contains forward-looking information that is intended to be covered by the safe harbor for "forward-looking statements" provided by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as "expect(s)", "feel(s)", "believe(s)", "will", "may", "anticipate(s)", "intend", "estimate", "project" and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, which generally are not historical in nature. These statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding plans, objectives and expectations with respect to future operations, products and services. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and generally beyond our control, that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied or projected by, the forward-looking information and statements. These risks and uncertainties include technical, business, financial, regulatory and/or legal issues that may arise in the development and/or implementation of the proposed WellPoint Watson solution. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements that speak only as of the date hereof. Except to the extent otherwise required by federal securities law, we do not undertake any obligation to republish revised forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. Readers are also urged to carefully review and consider the various disclosures in WellPoint's and IBM's SEC reports.

SOURCE: WellPoint

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