IBM’s supercomputer, Watson, first became known as the best question giver on the Jeopardy! TV game show. Now it is a lot smaller, more powerful and will soon be diagnosing, preventing and even helping to cure diverse cancers.
When Watson was first presented on Television in the famous Jeopardy! contest with live people, it was said to be the size of a modern living room. Now Watson is far smaller and much faster than its former glory. More importantly IBM says it is ready to put Watson to better use in helping doctors diagnose disease and even help all the apply the millions of pages data written for real time use.
Currently, the IBM supercomputer is absorbing incredible amounts of medical data from several hospitals around the U.S. Very soon Watson may will be offering its own opinion with helping to make decisions for doctors in regards to medical diagnosis.
According to IBM, only 20% of the information available to physicians in diagnosing disease is based on real evidence. Because of this fact, one in five diagnoses are completely wrong. Furthermore, this wrong diagnosis results in about 1.5 million medications being prescribed for the wrong disease or illness. IBM feels that by somehow compiling all the notes, references, large and miniscule medical data entries alike, that Watson will eliminate these errors coming from physicians.
What separates Watson from other computers is its ability to look at real data and determine a logical solution. There are many decision and factors to weigh in when diagnosing and treating disease and then each person is different. Watson is able to look at all of the studies, and their outcomes and with as many as 200 million pieces of intelligence in a single instant.
Watson uses natural language and hypothesis generation based on evidence that it takes in. This would help medical professionals in a fantastic way. IBM writes concerning Watson’s abilities,
“Watson begins by parsing the input to identify the key pieces of information. The system supports medical terminology by design, extending Watson's natural language processing capabilities. Watson then mines the patient data to find relevant facts about family history, current medications and other existing conditions. It combines this information with current findings from tests and instruments and then examines all available data sources to form hypotheses and test them. Watson can incorporate treatment guidelines, electronic medical record data, doctor's and nurse's notes, research, clinical studies, journal articles, and patient information into the data available for analysis.”
IBM is currently providing commercial access to Watson by hospitals and Insurance agencies. One hospital in particular is Memorial Sloan-Kettering cancer institute, and the computer is actually helping to treat cancer patients.
Unlike a physician Watson will never grow tired when researching its answers. More importantly, Watson would offer the same answers in curing diseases for even the smallest of hospitals.