Mayo and Ibm Use Gaming Technology

Case Study Two: Mayo Clinic Turns to Game Processor to Save Lives


  This case describes the collaboration between The Mayo Clinic and IBM in an effort to overcome the realization that the clinic’s information processing technologies couldn’t keep up with the increasing processing demands necessary to analyze digital medical images produced in their radiology department. Through this joint effort, Mayo’s radiologists would use the new technology to assist them in interpreting this ever-increasing amount of information and improve patient care. As noted in the case study, “This is a case of technology outpacing the human ability to manage the information it produces.”1 However, it is also a case of using the technology from one industry in a new and unique way to solve a problem in another industry.


  One of the unique aspects of this case is the utilization of a technology from one industry, the gaming computer industry, in a totally different and unique industry, the medical imaging industry. In this case, IBM used the Cell processor, a chip designed to accelerate three-dimensional (3D) graphics in gaming consoles, to improve the analysis of digital images in the medical industry. Paired with the right software, this processor significantly decreased the amount of time necessary to analyze complex medical images.

  Undoubtedly, this is not the only example of how information technology (IT) developed for one industry have been used to solve the problems or create new opportunities in another industry. The one industry that has led to the transference of its IT developments to more industries than any other is the space technologies industry.2 The IT developed for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) programs has been used to solve IT problems in homes, hospitals, farms, airports, and sports.3 Nowhere has the application of these NASA IT discoveries been more widely adopted than in medical settings, most...