Back in early 2011, I wrote a number of posts here about IBM’s Watson system, which scored a convincing victory over human champions in the long-running TV game show, Jeopardy!. The match, as a demonstration of the technology, was undoubtedly impressive, but the longer term aim was to employ Watson’s ability to cope with natural language and to assimilate a huge body of data for work in other areas, such as financial services, marketing, and medical diagnosis. It’s also been suggested that Watson might be made available as a service “in the cloud”.
On Friday, IBM, together with development partners WellPoint, Inc. and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, announced the availability of Watson-based systems for cancer diagnosis and care.
IBM , WellPoint, Inc., and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center today unveiled the first commercially developed Watson-based cognitive computing breakthroughs. These innovations stand alone to help transform the quality and speed of care delivered to patients through individualized, evidence based medicine.
Since the beginning of the development, Watson has absorbed more than 600,000 pieces of medical evidence and 2 million pages of text from 42 medical journals. It has also had thousands of hours of training from clinicians and technology specialists. The goal is to provide doctors and other care-givers with a menu of treatment options.
Watson has the power to sift through 1.5 million patient records representing decades of cancer treatment history, such as medical records and patient outcomes, and provide to physicians evidence based treatment options all in a matter of seconds.
Keeping up with the latest developments in medical research and clinical practice is a serious issue in health care; by some estimates, the amount of available information doubles every five years. A system based on Watson may give doctors a better chance of staying on top of all of that.
Three specific products were announced today:
The new products include the Interactive Care Insights for Oncology, powered by Watson, in collaboration with IBM, Memorial Sloan-Kettering and WellPoint. The WellPoint Interactive Care Guide and Interactive Care Reviewer, powered by Watson, designed for utilization management in collaboration with WellPoint and IBM.
The Watson system has improved technically since its debut on Jeopardy!. IBM says that its performance has increased by 240%, and its physical resource requirements reduced by 75%. It can now be run on a single Power 750 server.
There’s more information on the technology at IBM’s Watson site.