Feature | February 22, 2013

IBM's Watson Artificial Intelligence System Goes to Medical School

Article in The Atlantic discusses the next major step in clinical decision support software

robot clinical decision support, RP 7 robot

The InTouch RP7 robot allows physicians to conduct rounds and check in on patients remotely. New development is now taking place to allow a real robot with artificial intelligence to help diagnose patients.

February 22, 2013 — Artificial intelligence may be an ingredient in the future practice of medicine, where computers will offer their medical advice to human physicians on patient cases. While it sounds like science fiction, the roots of this technology are already in use today with computer aided detection (CAD) systems to help detect lung, breast and colon cancers on images. Another form is clinical decision support (CDS) software, which determines if a patient qualifies for a particular test or procedures based on appropriate use criteria. Going a step beyond these types of second opinion software is an effort to train a computer to think like a physician and make much more complex clinical decisions.

The March 2013 issue of The Atlantic, out this week, includes the article “The Robot Will See You Now,” which looks at how IBM's Watson — the same machine that beat Ken Jennings on Jeopardy — is now churning through case histories at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, learning to make diagnoses and treatment recommendations. This is one in a series of developments suggesting that technology may be about to disrupt health care in the same way it has disrupted so many other industries. The story asks the questions if doctors are necessary and just how far might the automation of medicine go?

Computers offer the ability to analyze far more data in an empirical fashion than the human mind, which might be able to overcome some of the bias and details that might be overlooked by human doctors.

Drawing on his own clinical experience and on academic studies, Marty Kohn, an emergency-room physician and a clinical leader of the IBM team training Watson for healthcare who was interviewed for the article, explained about one-third of errors made by doctors appear to be products of misdiagnosis. He said one cause of this is “anchoring bias.” Which is the human beings’ tendency to rely too heavily on a single piece of information. This happens all the time in doctors’ offices, clinics, and emergency rooms. A physician hears about two or three symptoms, seizes on a diagnosis consistent with those, and subconsciously discounts evidence that points to something else. Or a physician hits upon the right diagnosis, but fails to realize that it’s incomplete, and ends up treating just one condition when the patient is, in fact, suffering from several. Tools like Watson are less prone to those failings. As such, Kohn believes, they may eventually become as ubiquitous in doctors’ offices as the stethoscope.

“Watson fills in for some human limitations,” Kohn told The Atlantic. “Studies show that humans are good at taking a relatively limited list of possibilities and using that list, but are far less adept at using huge volumes of information. That’s where Watson shines: taking a huge list of information and winnowing it down.”

Cleveland Clinic is also helping to develop Watson, first as a tool for training young physicians and then, possibly, as a tool at the bedside itself. The insurance company WellPoint has also begun testing Watson as a support tool for nurses who make treatment-approval decisions.

To read the full Atlantic article, visit www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/03/the-robot-will-see-you-now/309216/

Related Content

iFR, FFR, Philips, Volcano
News | Cath Lab| August 28, 2015
August 28, 2015 — Philips Healthcare is showcasing its latest cardiology solutions at the European Society of Cardiol
ICD-10, transition, practices, Richard Milam, EnableSoft, robotic process automation, software testing, education, communication
News | Business| August 13, 2015
Many organizations may be rallying employees and resources in order to make the switch from the ICD-9 to the ICD-10...
ACC, Population Health Retreat, heart disease prevention
News | Information Technology| August 06, 2015
The American College of Cardiology (ACC) convened leaders in all aspects of healthcare the week of July 27 for a two-...
IBM, purchase, Merge Healthcare, $1 billion, Watson
News | Cardiac PACS| August 06, 2015
August 6, 2015 — IBM announced that its Watson Health Cloud will gain the ability to “see” following the planned acqu
Infinitt, partner plus agreement, TridentUSA Health Services, Infinitt PACS
News | Cardiac PACS| July 15, 2015
Infinitt announced today that it has entered into a seven-year Partner Plus Agreement with TridentUSA Health Services...
Most Wired, CHIME, information technology, secuirty, patient engagement
News | Information Technology| July 10, 2015
Health data security and patient engagement are top priorities for the nation's hospitals, according to results of the...
venture capital funding, VC, healthcare IT, Q2 2015, Mercom Capital Group, IPOs
News | Business| July 09, 2015
Mercom Capital Group llc, a global communications and research firm, released its report on funding and mergers and...
HIMSS, survey, cybersecurity, cyberattacks, healthcare organizations, IT
Feature | Information Technology| June 30, 2015
Cybersecurity was identified as an increased business priority over the past year according to 87 percent of...
echocardiography, ASE, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, HCM, interpretation, Narula
News | Cardiovascular Ultrasound| June 15, 2015
A research team from New York has announced advances in automated echocardiography decision systems that could help...
Technology | June 12, 2015
June 12, 2015 — Fujifilm Medical Systems U.S.A. Inc. will demonstrate the latest generation of Synapse Cardiovascular...
Overlay Init