Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Healthcare diagnostics acquiring a new supercomputer helper

IBM Supercomputer

Superstars on "Jeopardy!" were beat by the supercomputer Watson.

Superstars on "Jeopardy!" were beat by the supercomputer Watson. The International Business Machines team in charge of Watson used the game show to prove the problem-solving capability of the computer. Medical questions are the newest target of the supercomputer. The problem-solving ability of Watson should, in theory, be able to provide succinct answers to healthcare diagnostic inquiries. Estimations of possible diagnosis with Watson will include some information doctors simply don't have time to consider. Personal blogs, off-label utilizes of narcotics, and emerging research is all going to be considered in calculating the result of diagnostic questions.

Thinking for Watson

The reason why the IBM supercomputer, Watson, was built was not to solve difficulties. It was so he could win "Jeopardy!" at some time. To be able to do that, the computer was programmed with millions of pieces of information, deciphered natural language and created a list of possible answers to a question. In the showdown against two of the game show's biggest stars, Watson won handily. Watson's problem-solving ability is especially unique because it requires an understanding of natural language that could be very difficult to program into computers. The "probability engine" style of problem-solving also considers all logical possibilities, instead of giving a single solution to any problem.

Filling Watson with information in the healthcare field

After winning "Jeopardy!" Watson's programmers indicated that they thought the problem-solving ability of the computer could be put to use in the healthcare field. Just a few months later, their prediction is coming true. Watson no longer is being given historical information, the library of encyclopedias and film scripts. Instead, diagnostic manuals and medical journals are being given to the computer. Watson has been worked on by Columbia University medical researchers to be able to help him out. Hypothetical patients are being given to Watson by healthcare students in order to test him. When fed a list of symptoms, Watson will return a list of possible diagnoses and suggested treatments. Another thing Watson will do is consider narcotic allergies. He will take into account any complicating symptoms also.

Information that is new

Any newly accessible information is very easily given to Watson which is a large benefit. Programmers are considering adding medical blogs to Watson's database. They are also considering adding off-label narcotic uses. Diagnosing a patient will become more accurate. Doctors will have possibilities for treatment they might never have considered. It is also easier for Watson to diagnose a patient. All information will be involved and not left out. This does not, however, mean that doctors would no longer be necessary. Doctors have to make the final opinion on treatment for patients after considering what Watson has suggested. International Business Machines engineers are researching how to create "Watson portals" that doctors could consult during the diagnostics for a patient, but in the end, the doctor and patient would be the ones to make the final call.

Articles cited

USA Today

CBS News

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