IBM's Watson Gets a Job

Will aid WellPoint doctors, nurses in patient diagnoses, treatments

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 12, 2011 6:59 AM CDT

(Newser) – Looks like Watson’s Jeopardy appearance was the ticket to a high-profile job. As the health field goes increasingly digital, health insurer WellPoint is teaming up with IBM to use the technology in medical settings. Watson will ultimately help doctors with diagnoses and treatment suggestions, the Wall Street Journal reports. The deal's terms remain under wraps, but WellPoint will pay “some up front and some over time,” says an IBM exec.

Watson’s first medical job for WellPoint will involve working with nurses tasked with managing complicated patient cases; its next will take it to oncology practices, whose doctors will likely access the technology via their own computers or tablets. Eventually, patients may even be able to get help from Watson directly through an application. IBM hopes Watson can improve care—and one day bring in as much as $1 billion in annual revenue for IBM—while lowering costs, a VP said. But oncologists want to be sure it’s functioning “as an objective tool,” said one, where effectiveness, not cost, is the primary concern.

Ken Jennings, left, and Brad Rutter, right, pose after the episode of Jeopardy! that aired Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011, when Watson, the IBM-created megabrain, beat the veteran champs.
Ken Jennings, left, and Brad Rutter, right, pose after the episode of "Jeopardy!" that aired Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011, when Watson, the IBM-created megabrain, beat the veteran champs.   (AP Photo/Jeopardy Productions, Inc.)
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