The Watson supercomputer that competed on Jeopardy and beat all time high scorer Ken Jennings, will now compete against inefficiencies in healthcare treatments and promote better cancer treatments.
The team at IBM will collaborate with the insurance company WellPoint and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Care Center in New York City.
"We chose health care as a starting point," said Manoj Saxena, general manager of IBM's Watson Solutions, during the New York launch event. "We believe it's ready for transformation in the context of big data and analytics -- we believe that Watson will change the way that medicine is taught, practiced and paid for."
In preparation for it's new duties, the Watson program has spent the last year scanning through 600,000 pieces of medical data from 42 medical journals and clinical trials as well as 2 million pages of clinical oncology from trials and 1.5 million patient records
"By the end of the year, 50% of our nurses will be using Watson," WellPoint Executive Vice President Lori Leer said during a presentation at IBM's New York headquarters. The hope is to reduce the time it takes for healthcare claims to be approved by insurance and expedite proper procedures.
IBM's Saxena made a point that health care is a "$2 trillion industry," showing the market opportunity for IBM.
IBM also indicated that it had rolled out Watson solutions in six other "instances" over the past 12 months.
IBM's press release states that "The American Cancer Society projects that 1.6 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year alone. Studies suggest that the complexities associated with healthcare have caused one in five health care patients to receive a wrong or incomplete diagnosis. These statistics, coupled with a data explosion of medical information that is doubling every five years, represents an unprecedented opportunity for the health care industry and next generation cognitive computing systems, to combine forces in new ways to improve how medicine is taught, practiced and paid for."
But will this herald a new age in efficient healthcare and diagnosis? Or will the system be dogged by many of the issues that new technology usually is accompanied by?
IBM's Watson Group press release can be found here.
Doctors are Addressing Big Data Challenges Using Watson: