Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Watson Comes to Cleveland Clinic Patient Rooms 

When IBM’s Watson made his debut on Jeopardy!, the supercomputer’s makers were quick to point out that while its knowledge of trivia may be impressive, the real impact will come when Watson reaches its final destination - hospitals. Now, IBM is one step closer to this end as Cleveland Clinic brings Watson-based diagnostics tools to patient care and electronic health records (EHRs).

Specifically, Lerner College of Medicine, a collaboration between the Clinic and Case Western Reserve University will be testing Watson’s offerings within an educational environment.

This comes after IBM’s February announcement of two Watson-based decision support applications, WatsonPaths and Watson EMR Assistant, with the goal of solving complex patient problems while working easily with medical professionals.

In that time, Watson has taken in over 600,000 pieces of medical data, 2 million pages of text from 42 medical journals, and will use it while sifting through an estimated 1.5 million patient records in only seconds.

WatsonPaths will combine Watson’s spoken language capabilities with this library of medical information. Lerner is currently focused on using the tool for educational purposes. Watson EMR Assistant, on the other hand, has been designed to analyze EHRs.

Other IBM research partners include Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and WellPoint.

For other hospitals interested in using Watson’s services, IBM says that users will be able to purchase or rent them on their own server or in the cloud.

Although Watson’s undoubtedly puts its foot in the door with hospitals, Neil Mehta, director of education and technology at Lerner, explains that the technology still has a ways to go before it can truly fill the role of a physician’s assistant, noting that it’s “important to do appropriate studies before using Watson in patient care.”

Beyond its work with Lerner, Watson’s current aims are focused on diagnosing and treating lung cancer, as well as helping to manage health insurance decisions and claims by deciding which treatment is best to authorize for payment. For both applications, Watson will use patients’ current information in concert with its existing knowledge to offer a list of recommendations order based on Watson’s confidence.

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