IBM Watson in Healthcare | BioMedical Mondays 08

In 2011, IBM Watson, a supercomputer that can answer questions based off of imputed data, was shown to beat a human contestants on the show Jeopardy. This was one of the first times in our history where a computer was able to outperform a human being. Besides being able to outperform humans in answering questions, Watson has the capability of revolutionizing many fields. One such field is healthcare.  


Watson is a type of artificial intelligence. This means it can do things that normally humans would do.  One such item is diagnosing patients. In 2013, IBM Watson was first used in Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The technology was used for lung cancer treatment. It allowed for doctors to better diagnose the lung cancer. Based off of a patient's previous medical history, Watson comes up with a list of treatment options for the lung cancer, along with a confidence score of how effective it will be for the patient. This completely disrupts healthcare for two reasons. One, doctors do not have to spend time trying to diagnose the disease, with sub-par results compared to IBM Watson. And two, hospitals and clinics can now scale personalized health to many people, allowing better quality of healthcare and more profits. IBM Watson, just like many other types of artificial intelligence, improves with time. The more data is added, along with its usage, the better the system gets at repetitive and routine tasks (in this case, diagnosing patients).

Not only is Watson able to better diagnose patients conditions, but it can also better recommend clinical trials.  Billions of dollars have been lost due to patients not being enrolled in clinical trials.  IBM Watson helps solve this problem by taking the patient's data and matching it with clinical trials to see if there is a potential fit.  Novartis, a pharmaceutical company, is using the platform to better design experiments, match patients, and gain better insight into a whole list of other problems.

Author: Hamza Waheed