RESEARCH: Watson Health’s vision is to help physicians make clinical decisions …

From Daily Doubles to Doctors’ Sides

By Abigail Ballou

18 Nov, 2015 – In the current era of Big Data, the challenge of consuming and analyzing an unprecedented amount of medical information regularly confronts physicians.

“The amount of medical knowledge is doubling every two years,” says Deborah DiSanzo, general manager of Watson Health. “There is simply no way that a doctor today, or tomorrow, or in five years is going to be able to keep up with this onslaught of information.”

Watson Health, IBM’s cognitive computing platform, is here to help. Watson Health is a clinical decision support system that can read and analyze personal, clinical, research and social data collected from a variety of platforms like medical literature, electronic health records, wearables and apps.

Many people are familiar with Watson’s 2011 debut on Jeopardy!, where it beat the show’s record-holding champion Ken Jennings. But what most people don’t know is that Watson’s strategy for answering Jeopardy! questions— tapping into a vast reservoir of exogenous data and curating a list of potential answers ranked in order of confidence—is strikingly similar to the strategy physicians use when they construct a differential diagnosis or treatment plan.

Watson Health’s vision is to help physicians make clinical decisions—such a generating a differential diagnosis or suggesting a treatment plan— by sifting through and analyzing an often siloed sea of available medical data. To do this, Watson Health constructs a cloud-based data-sharing hub. “We need to get that data in a democratized, anonymized data lake in the cloud that Watson can then do it’s cognitive computing on,” says DiSanzo. Since its launch in April of 2015, Watson Health has been working to establish partnerships with companies such as Explorys and Phytel, both of which will contribute to Watson’s cloud-based data.



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