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IBM puts Watson to work training doctors

Wants to understand medical records
Thu Nov 01 2012, 17:06
IBM Watson supercomputer

ENTERPRISE VENDOR IBM has signed a deal with a US hospital to put its experimental Watson cluster to work training doctors.

IBM's Watson cluster hit the headlines after winning an episode of Jeopardy against two of the show's most successful contestants. Now the firm has signed a deal with a hospital in Cleveland, Ohio to put Watson's capabilities to work training doctors.

According to IBM, medical students will work on improving Watson's understanding of medical language and domain analysis capabilities. IBM said this cooperation between students and Watson will help both parties improve performance, with the ultimate goal being Watson processing electronic medical records and understanding the content of those records.

David Ferrucci, IBM fellow and principal investigator of the Watson project said, "The practice of medicine is changing and so should the way medical students learn. In the real world, medical case scenarios should rely on people's ability to quickly find and apply the most relevant knowledge. Finding and evaluating multistep paths through the medical literature is required to identify evidence in support of potential diagnoses and treatment options."

James Stoller, chair of the Education Institute at Cleveland Clinic said future doctors will use tools such as Watson alongside their own knowledge. He added, "Technology will never replace the doctor, but it can make us better. Our students and faculty are excited to play a role in getting us there."

While Big Blue's Watson cluster might not be anywhere near the sharp end of medical practices, gaining the ability to correlate medical data should in the future help it make associations between causes and symptoms quicker than doctors, enabling faster and perhaps better diagnosis. µ


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