Watson supercomputer could have a place in future clinical setting


IBM's Jeopardy! winning supercomputer Watson will not likely replace your local doctor when you go in for a check-up, but it might not be so bad to have it around during your appointment.

Signs and symptoms of lymphoma are often so general that they don't set off alarm bells in the average clinician, and the process can up a lot of time with hits and misses, and end up either wasting precious time. Patients tend to assume their doctors are up to date on the latest medical information, but this would be impossible: the average clinician receives seven medical journals that feature 2,500 new articles every year. In order to stay on top of all this information, a doctor would need 80 hours a week just to read through it all.

Watson, on the other hand, processes information thanks to a technology known as Deep Question and Answer (DeepQA), which allows the computer to go through the equivalent of about one million books in three seconds. In other words, some in the medical community are eyeing Watson's ability to help clinicians make the most accurate diagnoses as soon as possible-- with your doctor on hand, of course.

Cancers-- and especially lymphomas-- are moving targets, with more and more learned about them every week. The average doctor can't keep up. A little on-hand help in the form of Watson wouldn't hurt.

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