IBM's Watson to Start Dispensing Medical Advice
It teams with big insurer, hospital on two apps for doctors, insurers
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 8, 2013 6:09 PM CST
This 2011 photo provided by IBM shows the computer system known as Watson at IBM's research center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y.   (AP Photo/IBM, File)

(Newser) – Dr. Watson is accepting new patients. The Watson supercomputer is graduating from its medical residency and is being offered commercially to doctors and health insurance companies. IBM, the health insurer WellPoint, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center announced two Watson-based applications—one to help assess treatments for lung cancer and one to help manage health insurance decisions and claims. Both applications take advantage of the speed, huge database, and language skill the computer demonstrated in defeating the best human Jeopardy! players on television two years ago.

In both applications, doctors or insurance company workers will access Watson through a tablet or computer. Watson will compare a patient's medical records to what it has learned and make recommendations in decreasing order of confidence. In the cancer program, the computer will be considering what treatment is most likely to succeed. In the insurance program, it will consider what treatment should be authorized for payment. Watson has been trained in medicine through pilot programs at WellPoint and Sloan-Kettering. The lung cancer program is being adopted by two medical groups, the Maine Center for Cancer Medicine and WestMed in New York's Westchester County. WellPoint is already using the insurance application. It will be selling both applications and will compensate IBM under a deal between the firms.

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Feb 15, 2013 5:54 PM CST
Take two Zener Diodes and call be in the morning.
Feb 10, 2013 3:41 AM CST
they're pretty much already doing this at kaiser. the doctor doesn't even look at you as he asks a series of questions, plugs them into the computer then recommends whatever hell the drug the computer told him to say. true story. my husband has a disease where his meds need to be adjusted. we've gone in to tell them what's wrong and some osteopath from the philippines, who has no idea what drugs or disease we're talking about, just enters it all into the computer and it spits out the next recommendation. he personally has no clue what the drugs do, he just reads the pros and cons right off the computer. jesus, we're already living in the age of idiocracy.
Feb 9, 2013 11:28 PM CST
It would be cool to see this thing outperform all of medicine in diagnosis. Then, we wouldn't have all these crappy overpaid doctors, who should be flipping burgers in Burger King. Whatever happens, they should never, ever teach it about money or finances. Finally, technology is getting a chance to throttle a jackhammer up the butts of the scumbag Health Insurance people.