Dr. Martin Kohn is the Chief Medical Scientist for IBM Research.

 

Watson is going to work in health care (and we’ll all benefit)

By Martin Kohn | March 6, 2013, 6:28 AM PST

How about this for information overload?

Every five years, the amount of new medical information that is created doubles. Yet, 81 percent of doctors say they can spend less than three to five hours a week keeping up with it.

As a profession, we’re creating a lot of life-altering knowledge. But it’s impossible for us to memorize every technical journal and textbook available. Is it any surprise that only about 20 percent of the knowledge clinicians use today is evidence-based?

And the problem isn’t just that we need help sorting through all this information, whether it’s electronic medical records, clinical studies published in medical journals, or test results.

It’s that as this data piles up and major advances are made in research about specific illnesses, treatments, and genetics, we also need help finding the relevant information so we can diagnose illnesses faster and more accurately. We can learn from what works with other patients in order to be able to tailor treatments better to each individual’s personal situation.

Since I am an emergency physician, I’m very pleased that the first commercial applications for IBM’s Watson are in the medical field. The powerful combination of capabilities like big data analytics and cognitive computing found in Watson stand to revolutionalize healthcare through individualized, evidence-based medicine.

Read more: Watson is going to work in health care (and we’ll all benefit) | SmartPlanet.

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