Tuesday, August 28, 2012

IBM's Watson and the healthcare industry

From the book Cracking the Code:

“One such application for Watson could be in the field of medicine; Watson’s virtually limitless data storage capability combined with its incredible recall ability makes it a natural diagnostician. Imagine if Watson’s memory contained the medical history of every patient, as well as all medical knowledge known to humans so far, including experimental treatments. If provided with all the symptoms of a patient with a disease that doctors have been unable to diagnose correctly, Watson could come up with a few likely diagnoses as well as suggest the best course of action given the results from thousands of previous cases.

Better still, if Watson had an additional module installed that allowed it to extract all the information it needs from a patient’s blood or tissue sample, it could be an all-in-one medical provider. Taking it one step further, Watson could also be programmed to find certain patterns in disease and treatment. Its vast database would be able to pick up trends and patterns that may be too subtle for humans to detect.

In fact, IBM has already entered into a research agreement with a company called Nuance Communications, to explore, develop and commercialize Watson’s advanced analytical capabilities in the healthcare industry. Nuance Communications (NASDAQ: NUAN) has a market capitalization of over US$7 billion at the time of writing and is trading at almost 50 times its trailing earnings, so clearly the market strongly believes in the huge commercial opportunity that lies ahead in this sector. The law would be another wonderfully powerful application for Watson. Totally impartial, Watson the lawyer, or perhaps more controversially, the judge would have access to every case in history as well as all the world’s laws and legal systems. Think of how quickly and efficiently cases could be heard and resolved. Most of all, think about the potential billions of dollars saved in legal fees that would otherwise be racked up by using human lawyers!”


Related articles:

Watson in healthcare (Thanks to Andrew for passing this link along.)