IBM's Watson Healthcare Initiative

How AI is changing healthcare for the better


Watson, IBM’s artificially intelligent computer which learns through the power of cognition, is being used in a number of industries to help people make better and more precise decisions. As an extension of this, it was recently announced that IBM is planning to expand Watson’s capabilities to include healthcare analytics.

Working in conjunction with Epic, a software company which specialises in mid-size and large medical healthcare companies, and Mayo Clinic, IBM’s hope is that by using Watson they’ll be able to transfer the reams of the healthcare data to the cloud, which would in turn allow hospitals, insurers and researchers access to tailored insights on patients.

John E. Kelly, who oversees IBM’s research labs, states;

‘We’re going to enable personalized health care on a huge scale’

Mike Rhodin, IBM Watson’s SVP claimed that it was just ‘the first step’ in the move towards more personalised care, adding that they want ‘to bring personalised care to individual patients by connecting traditional sources of patient information with the growing pools of dynamic and constantly growing healthcare information’.

It’s hoped that the new partnership between Epic and IBM will eventually help to personalise patient management for the most chronic diseases, and give doctors and nurses information on-demand to help them cure their patients in a quicker, more efficient fashion.

Due to the cognitive abilities of Watson, there’s real hope that it will also speed up the enrolling process and perhaps more importantly make diagnoses more accurate.

IBM also announced this week that they will be partnering with 14 major cancer centres in the United States in order to help doctors guide their patients through therapy. Whilst this is evidence in itself that Watson is becoming an important tool, further evidence was seen when the app ‘@Pointofcare’ incorporated the system to bring personalised healthcare advice.

The fact that the system already has such coverage shows that people believe that data and analytics can have a positive impact on healthcare. Clearly there’s still a long way to go, but IBM’s Watson initiative is clearly something to get excited about.


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