May 23, 2011
After battling the flesh-and-blood know-it-alls on “Jeopardy!,” IBM supercomputer Watson is getting ready for its next big challenge – helping doctors navigate the increasingly complex world of medicine.
Watson is being groomed to be a bedside medical tool – digesting medical textbooks, journals, treatment guidelines as well as information from patients’ blogs to diagnose illnesses quickly and accurately.
IBM says Watson, with its ability to understand language, can absorb questions about a patient’s symptoms and medical history and quickly suggest diagnoses and treatments. They envision several uses, including a doctor speaking into a handheld device to get answers at a patient’s bedside or to serve as a second opinion. Watson could also link to electronic health records that the federal government wants hospitals to maintain.