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

Partners HealthCare and GE Healthcare Launch 10-year Collaboration on Artificial Intelligence
News | Artificial Intelligence| May 17, 2017
May 17, 2017 — Partners HealthCare and GE Healthcare announced a 10-year collaboration to rapidly develop, validate a
News | Information Technology| May 11, 2017
McKesson Imaging & Workflow Solutions, an industry leader in providing healthcare IT and imaging solutions, is...
DASpecialists and Lumedx partner for data abstraction and support services for cardiovascular registries, NCDR, ACC, STS
News | Cardiac PACS| May 05, 2017
May 5, 2017 — DASpecialists LLC, a provider of data abstraction and support services for mandated or voluntary cardio
Spok Survey Confirms Mobile Device Infrastructure Improvements and Diversity in Hospitals
News | Mobile Devices| May 03, 2017
Spok Inc. recently released the second part of the company's annual mobility in healthcare survey. Spok has been...
Digital Health Company Murj Announces $4.5 Million in Financing
News | Implantable Cardiac Monitor (ICM)| April 19, 2017
Murj Inc., a digital health company that helps manage implantable cardiac device data, announced more than $4.5 million...
Siemens Healthineers Supports Population Health Management With Planned Acquisition of Medicalis
News | Clinical Decision Support| April 19, 2017
Siemens Healthineers plans to expand its Population Health Management (PHM) portfolio with the acquisition of Medicalis...

Physicians will need to use a CMS-certified appropriate use criteria (AUC) clinical decision support software that documents the appropriateness of an imaging order to receive full reimbursement for Medicare patients starting Jan. 1, 2018.

Feature | Cardiac Imaging| April 18, 2017 | Dave Fornell
As part of U.S. healthcare reform efforts, starting Jan.
Sponsored Content | Videos | Analytics Software| April 13, 2017
The shift to value-based payment models requires focused attention on quality and cost.
ACR Appropriateness Criteria, update, new topics, medical imaging, AUC, American College of Radiology
News | Clinical Decision Support| April 03, 2017
The newest release of American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria covers 230 topics with more than 1,...
ECRI Institute, top 10 patient safety concerns, 2017 report, information technology, healthcare
News | Information Technology| March 24, 2017
Safe implementation of new technologies and therapies accompany classic patient safety challenges on ECRI Institute's “...
Overlay Init