​IBM’s Watson Learns Medicine

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May 23, 2011

IBM Watson Medicine – After the famous computer won jeopardy, it will now learn medicine as Dr. Watson from IBM. The computer system will now be put to the test and how to diagnose patients.

The idea is for the system to quickly take information given to it by a patient and then quickly come up with a prognoses and suggestions on how help the patient. The machine would have to base its conclusions on information based off of medical archives around the world. This would mean that the IBM computer may be suitable to handle severe situations that a doctor has never encountered.

The University of Maryland medical school has joined IBM, software developer Nuance and Columbia University Medical Center to attempt this feat. The research team has applied for a $12 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to help fund the teachings to the learning machine. According to Dr. Eliot Siegel, professor and vice chairman of the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Department of Diagnostic Radiology, he though of the idea a couple years ago.

He had this to say, “Doctors can only make decisions based on their experience. Watson would have the equivalent of many doctors’ experience.” He added that even the best doctors in the world are only able to read 1 percent of the medical articles released while the machine could ‘read’ all of it.

To put it simply Siegel explained it like this, “It would be like a spell check and then it could synthesize and present electronic medical records in a clear and precise way.” While some may feel that this could cause them to be replaced that would not be the case. “The problem with medicine is not a problem of oversupply, but a problem of undersupply,” Siegel said. “Watson would allow us to address the shortage of physicians and could actually provide new jobs and opportunities.”