Recent news that IBM's supercomputer "Watson" has teamed up with Memorial Sloan Kettering in patient care provides a nice introduction to a blog series on compassion and computers.
Watson is the name of a powerful computer program developed to aid physicians in their clinical decision making. The operative word is "aid" -- not "replace."
As summarized by IBM, Watson has "the potential to help transform the quality and speed of care — and the entire healthcare industry — through individualized evidence-based medicine."
This 8-minute video demonstration can do more to allay fears and inspire new hope than any words I could put together on this blog. In summary...
- Doctors input information about a patient's medical history, test findings and preferences for treatment.
- Watson accesses all available information on the patient's medical situation to suggest further questions and/or diagnostic tests.
- Doctors input the additional information and test results.
- Watson provides the likely diagnosis and treatment options with qualifiers about confidence.
- Doctors review Watson's conclusions and then make a treatment decision together.
The key advantages include...
- Rapid retrieval of patient's test results
- Rapid retrieval of pertinent medical information available online
- Confidence measures for treatment options
- Flexibility with patient preferences
Next: disadvantages and concerns