Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

IBM's Watson To Help Diagnose, Treat Cancer

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the fighting-sickness-with-robots dept.

AI 150

Lucas123 writes "IBM's Jeopardy-playing supercomputer, Watson, will be turning its data compiling engine toward helping oncologists diagnose and treat cancer. According to IBM, the computer is being assembled in the Richmond, Va. data center of WellPoint, the country's largest Blue Cross, Blue Shield-based healthcare company. Physicians will be able to input a patient's symptoms and Watson will use data from a patient's electronic health record, insurance claims data, and worldwide clinical research to come up with both a diagnosis and treatment based on evidence-based medicine. 'If you think about the power of [combining] all our information along with all that comparative research and medical knowledge... that's what really creates this game changing capability for healthcare,' said Lori Beer, executive vice president of Enterprise Business Services at WellPoint."

cancel ×

150 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

House-Watson (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | about 3 years ago | (#37381238)

"What is Lupus?"

Re:House-Watson (1)

bwintx (813768) | about 3 years ago | (#37381276)

"It's a trick question -- it's never lupus."

Re:House-Watson (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 3 years ago | (#37381790)

I'll take endocrine disorders, Alex.

Re:House-Watson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37381292)

Do you mean "Who is Lupus?"

Lupus is another name for vitamin D deficiency? (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 3 years ago | (#37382660)

Glitch / Hacked Watson Equals (1)

drpimp (900837) | about 3 years ago | (#37381244)

100K patients diagnosed as terminal. Thanks for playing.

In all seriousness though the data collection for this would call for some crazy data crunching which this system seems to do well.

Limited treatment on the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37381304)

Wow! Insurance data being used for treatment. This in no way will hamper the patient getting the best possible medical care for their condition. I can see no problems with this what-so-ever.

If it isn't obvious, this is tiered medical care at its finest. Sorry! You don't make enough income, and your dependents, upon your immenent death, won't be able to foot your lingering bills over the next decade. You get treatment plan B3 instead. Oh, and your dependents will be able to pay this off in 5 years at present salaries. Have a good 9 months of life!

Let them try that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37382188)

They will find everyone is uninsurable. No clients == no money coming in. End result. Bankruptcy.

Re:Limited treatment on the way (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 3 years ago | (#37382528)

If it isn't obvious, this is tiered medical care at its finest. Sorry! You don't make enough income, and your dependents, upon your immenent death, won't be able to foot your lingering bills over the next decade. You get treatment plan B3 instead.

Of course, you're right. To the extent that any insurance company, including (especially) Blue Cross Blue Shield, is using the power of supercomputers, it's not to diagnose and treat disease, but to figure out more creative ways to NOT PAY for patients' treatment.

Let's not forget that the entire business model of health insurance companies is based on paying less for customer care than those customers paid into their policies. It's based on denying coverage. Think about that: the whole point of health insurance is to not treat patients, not treat disease.

This is why it's just insane to allow for-profit corporations to be involved at any level of health care, including pharmaceuticals. Think of all the money that is spent on researching new drugs. The entire thing could be paid for with public funds and the drugs could be made public domain and it would cost less than George Bush's Medicare Part D which was nothing but a trillion-dollar giveaway to the transnational pharmaceutical companies.

As long as we follow the for-profit model of health care, things are only going to get worse, and "medicine" is going to lead us to some very dark places. It already has.

What could possibly go wrong? (2, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | about 3 years ago | (#37381320)

We already have insurance case evaluators overriding a practitioner's medical judgments. Now, we'll have evaluators PLUS a very expensive rules engine* versus the overworked GP.

*And what, prithee, does the price of the system have to do with its credibility? Everything. If you sink a lot of money into something like this, you've already bet your money on whether it's right or not. No one is installing a Watson rig with an expensive data warehouse just for lulz, and no one's going to be able to casually second-guess this thing without massive evidence. It's going to be right all the time or BC-BS will look like a dope for spending so much.

Beside, it won Jeopardy! It must be right!

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (5, Interesting)

robot256 (1635039) | about 3 years ago | (#37381474)

The nice thing is that its result is not just spat out of a black box--it gives a pretty accurate confidence measure, and actually links back to the articles that led it to each conclusion. That means the doctor can go and read them for himself. He may find articles he never would have found otherwise, and become a better doctor for it. It also gives the basis upon which to challenge the computer in court, if it comes to that ("Toronto", anyone?). I think the hope of WellPoint is that it will allow doctors to learn from research faster and more efficiently, so that young doctors learn faster and old doctors stay current. The more the doctors on the front lines of medicine know, the better patient outcomes will be. Nobody is saying the computer is going to ever replace the doctors altogether.

Then the legal department will come and screw everything up, of course, but we can wait a little while before that happens.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (2)

emuls (1926384) | about 3 years ago | (#37381558)

Except it's not being deployed for a hospital, it's being deployed for an insurance company. At what point to Doctor's ever enter this equation?

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (2)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#37381592)

Yeah - "helping oncologists diagnose and treat cancer" my ass. More like: This patient has a very high probability of having cancer - drop his coverage, quick! Oh and after we cancel his insurance, tell him to get checked for cancer.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

MimeticLie (1866406) | about 3 years ago | (#37381818)

On a slightly less pessimistic note, it could be the continuation of a trend in the medical insurance industry to emphasize preventative care. At one point, my parents were getting about a call per week for my father from insurance company nurses trying to give him health advice (He has high blood pressure, among other things. However, he is also a doctor, so their efforts might have been misaligned a bit.).

I could see this being part of a similar system. It might even be better suited to being at your insurance company; with access to your medical records, it can connect symptoms and complaints from various different visits, even if the patient or GP doesn't connect them his or herself.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (4, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 years ago | (#37381598)

The nice thing is that its result is not just spat out of a black box--it gives a pretty accurate confidence measure, and actually links back to the articles that led it to each conclusion.

A question and a comment.

First, how do you know this? It really didn't say how it is going to get an 'accurate confidence measure'? Which leads me to my comment - the completely untested assumption here is that the answer lies in the current literature [nih.gov] , if only you could wade through it. That isn't at all clear to me. Much of the 'best' data comes from double blinded placebo controlled studies. The big problem here is that the patients are typically carefully selected for having as few other co morbidities as possible. That's very useful from a research situation but makes the data poorly generalizable to the average patient on the street who has no particular interest in being 'simple' (or rational or compliant). The rest of the medical literature is basically crap. "Expert" opinion which turns out to be wrong as often as not. Observational studies which almost always inflate the efficacy of treatments and can only provide correlation. Much of medicine has really never been studied carefully at all.

Next, if they're using any insurance company's billing data, well you might just as well consult rabbit entrails. In the US the vast majority of that data is entered in an obfuscated, outdated and thoroughly whimsical system called ICD-9 (International Classification of Diseases, version 9). The REST of the world with the possible exception of North Korea is on 10 - a system that is much more useful. But even using one of the more sophisticated medical database systems is still unlikely to give you the detail you need to actually treat someone.

Of course, there is little useful information on how this will work - whether the doc will consult this wonderful oracle or if the insurance company will send you a form letter six months after the patient died saying you should have done something different. If they are going to go through with this,, I hope to hell they are going to carefully monitor it's success (or lack thereof) over time. And do that honestly. My money is that it won't help all that much.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Spikeles (972972) | about 3 years ago | (#37382072)

More likely, it'll become what Google already has. [harvard.edu] An external memory device [latimes.com] .

The results of four studies suggest that when faced with difficult questions, people are primed to think about computers and that when people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it.

Why remember that X is caused by Y when you can just input Y into a computer and it gives X?

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37382234)

Why remember that X is caused by Y when you can just input Y into a computer and it gives X?

Disaster recovery in case of EMP or in case of The Change [tvtropes.org] .

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (2)

nbauman (624611) | about 3 years ago | (#37382814)

Do you know any oncologists?

I've gone to lectures, and talked to a lot of them. I've heard that there are dumb oncologists, but I've never met one.

Oncologists are pretty smart. They *already* know the medical literature cold. There aren't that many high-quality clinical studies on a major cancer -- say, breast cancer -- and an oncologist who treats breast cancer will know them all. They may not have *read* them all, because they've heard the results of the studies when they were first reported at medical meetings. But they know them, and they understand the biological mechanisms of cancer as well as anybody knows.

And oncologists *already* use computers in those applications where it's useful. They have electronic medical records in at least the major hospitals. (Some doctors complain that EMRs make it too easy to fill up a medical record with irrelevant information that nobody has time to get through. The old paper records forced doctors to get to the point and concentrate on relevant information.)

PubMed http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed [nih.gov] is free and probably the best medical database created for any money.

Oncologists aren't ashamed to search Google when they hit a dead end.

Peter Norvig wrote some great algorithms for Google, and they can do some wonderful things -- translate languages, finish your search request, and other amazing things.

Norvig was lucky. The kind of problems that doctors face haven't fallen to clever algorithms yet.

2 points:

(1) The best way to manage medical information is in a doctor's head. If computers can help, that's great, but don't get overconfident.

(2) You'll never know if a particular computer application works in medicine until somebody does a well-designed randomized controlled trial to find out -- the old scientific method. The results of computers in medicine are mixed. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If your life is important, use the scientific method.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

tgd (2822) | about 3 years ago | (#37381568)

Here's a joke for you:

What do they call the person who graduates last from Medical School?

Doctor.

As a patient, I'd like to know what sources my provider has consulted and based a diagnosis on. I don't want my health dependant on which PA or GP I get when I go to the doctors office or to the hospital. Doctors may catch the obvious things, but when its not obvious, your life literally depends on who you happen to get lucky enough to see. That's a pretty sad state of affairs, and its great if this helps.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (2)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | about 3 years ago | (#37382416)

> your life literally depends on who you happen to get lucky enough to see.

This is why for anything serious, you are very careful about who you see. It's really a combination of luck and networking to reliable people. The hardest part (for a slashdotter) is finding one person who is good enough and knows enough that they will send you to what is probably the right place. Someone can have a wonderful reputation and be a bad surgeon, and sorting wheat from chaff is really, really hard, especially when the medical community is tight-lipped to begin with, and it's not like they provide patients with empirical information.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (3, Insightful)

rjstanford (69735) | about 3 years ago | (#37382532)

Here's a joke for you:

What do they call the person who graduates last from Medical School?

Doctor.

As a patient, I'd like to know what sources my provider has consulted and based a diagnosis on. I don't want my health dependant on which PA or GP I get when I go to the doctors office or to the hospital. Doctors may catch the obvious things, but when its not obvious, your life literally depends on who you happen to get lucky enough to see. That's a pretty sad state of affairs, and its great if this helps.

Here's some truth for you. There are ~310 million people in the US alone. There is one "best oncologist." Most of the people are never going to see him or her.

The good news, and some more truth, is that most of the people - even those with cancer - don't need to.

The bad news is that many of them will think that they do and bitch and moan when they don't.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (5, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 3 years ago | (#37381580)

Computers are actually better at certain kinds of diagnosis than the overworked GP, though, and have been for years. In particular, computers are very good at conditional probability, and at combining information from thousands of study results that a typical GP doesn't have time to keep up with. The MYCIN [wikipedia.org] AI system beat most doctors in diagnosing blood infections over 30 years ago, but wasn't adopted in actual medical practice mainly for political reasons.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

grmoc (57943) | about 3 years ago | (#37381642)

This.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (4, Interesting)

elsurexiste (1758620) | about 3 years ago | (#37381948)

Wikipedia suggests that the real reason was technical: loading the required knowledge into the system was painful. This is more related to my own experience: ESs don't get adopted because UI is crappy at bests.

mixing up citys = a very long distance call is one (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 years ago | (#37382216)

think but mixing doctor stuff can kill.

it's one thing to think Toronto in is in USA but think that one type of diagnoses is part of the right group but is not can end in death.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | about 3 years ago | (#37382684)

Well hopefully... this results in a world where we don't need to work the GP.

The reality is that your average doctor really doesn't do anything that complicated that a computer can't match on average. They take symptoms, order tests...

What you really need to do is make sure it doesn't go nuts. I'm sure they could write in some safe guards and other health professionals like nurses could do a sanity check.

It's about time we recognize that 'quality' is not the only metric in healthcare. Availability, cost... factor in just like anything else.

If a computer can do image detection with 98% accuracy of a radiologist, we should use it.

If we can improve primary care by using Watson, we should allow it.

Will doctors accept it? They'll fight it as they like their monopoly... but for the greater good, we should fight for such choice.

'idocracy' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37381334)

Who tagged this 'idocracy'? Is that even a word?

If this were an Apple medicine machine, maybe it would be iDocracy.

Re:'idocracy' (2)

electron sponge (1758814) | about 3 years ago | (#37381422)

Who tagged this 'idocracy'? Is that even a word?

If this were an Apple medicine machine, maybe it would be iDocracy.

Idiocracy [wikipedia.org]

Tag whoosh?

Re:'idocracy' (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | about 3 years ago | (#37381496)

It is the name of a movie about a future where mankind has evolved backwards (due to stupid people being more likely to have offspring then smart people), repeated over hundreds of years, at one point in the movie, it shows a hospital, where they basically hand everyone probes "this one goes in your ear, this one goes in your mouth, this one up your nose, and this one goes up your butt, no wait, this one goes in your mouth, this one up your butt... er... ummm....

Re:'idocracy' (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 3 years ago | (#37382090)

Not when there's a painfully obvious typo in it, it isn't.

Re:'idocracy' (1)

Thiez (1281866) | about 3 years ago | (#37382324)

What a ridiculous concept. Evolving backwards? No such thing.

Watson says you are going to die anyway (1)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | about 3 years ago | (#37381366)

I can see this being used as evidence for not paying for treatments/surgeries etc.

Re:Then why waste money on cancer treatments? (2)

robot256 (1635039) | about 3 years ago | (#37381530)

That brings up a good point though. If the computer says it's a bad idea, and backs that up with evidence, might it not actually be a bad idea? The whole point of evidence-based medicine is to improve outcomes (and save money) by reducing late diagnosis, misdiagnosis and unnecessary procedures. If, in fact, the computer is right most of the time and you don't actually need that procedure, then it will save money. There will always be errors, whether it's the fault of a doctor or the computer; the goal is to reduce their cost and frequency.

Here's another take: If you assume a certain amount (or even most) unnecessary procedures are a result of defensive medicine and doctors covering there asses, then might not the computer give them an excuse to omit those procedures which, medically, they already know are unnecessary?

Re:Then why waste money on cancer treatments? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 3 years ago | (#37381974)

If the computer says it's a bad idea, and backs that up with evidence, might it not actually be a bad idea?

I can't answer that, Dave.

Re:Then why waste money on cancer treatments? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 3 years ago | (#37382264)

That brings up a good point though. If the computer says it's a bad idea, and backs that up with evidence, might it not actually be a bad idea?

Possibly.

On the other hand, I'm alive because my oncologist tried something that had a very good chance of killing me, since I'd reached the point where all the evidence said that I was untreatable.

It worked, she got to present the paper at some medical conference, and now (hopefully) other people who have my little problem (or related little problems) have a better chance than they would've had if my doctor had tried the textbook solution....

Re:Then why waste money on cancer treatments? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37382446)

People tend to be optimistic in there lifeview, no one wants to hear that. Would you want to be told by all doctors your gonna die but there is this medicine that might cure your cancer, but all the medical evidence suggest it would be ineffective or fatal if given to you. Insurance companies will look for any reason to deny a drug to save money and will use watson to accomplish this when ever possible. How ever that drug may still actually cure you, every one body is vastly complex and different environment full of bacteria and virii.

For Christ sakes even the FDA doesn't fully study medicine because the cost would be so astronomical to look at every possible combination of chemical/biological interactions in the body and environment. Unfortunately to everyone alive this won't really change until the idea of money falls out of favor in society or till quantum computers take the place of classic computers.

Re:Watson says you are going to die anyway (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | about 3 years ago | (#37382634)

"I can see this being used as evidence for not paying for treatments/surgeries etc."

Or a way to side-step responsibility for medical decisions in the context of malpractice suits. Or perhaps an "expert" witness...

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I will now prove, with the help of Dr. Watson, that Ms. Swinebottom was killed at the hands of..."
"Excuse me. DOCTOR Watson? This box has a degree in medicine?"
"Well, no. But it does have available to it the entire store of medical literature, and can make billions of calculations..."
"So, it isn't a doctor?"

"No, but it costs almost as much as one."

I'm a medical student.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37381376)

I once heard a story about a doctor who had a surgery with a big hollow tree next to the garden path. One day they cut it down and found it had been stuffed full of prescriptions. A lot of those patients just wanted to talk to someone, or hear someone say that they hoped they got better.

Watson might get a correct diagnosis, but it will never have the insight to ask a patient who looks stressed out how they're sleeping and find out about their suicidal ideation, despite the fact they only came in with a sore foot.

Medicine is a science, and an art. It's easy to forget that.

Re:I'm a medical student.. (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about 3 years ago | (#37381516)

I don't think anyone is suggesting we entirely replace doctors actually talking with their patients with this equipment. It's a tool like any other to give a doctor insight.

Re:I'm a medical student.. (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | about 3 years ago | (#37381548)

True, but mental conditions also have physical side effects that can be detected. Heart rate, facial expressions etc... While I highly doubt a pre-recorded voice or an AI will ever handle that, I could see a computer being smart enough to flag people for a chat with a psychiatrist on par or better than your average doctor. You also forget, while many doctors are brilliant with bedside manner, there are also many that are brilliant on the medical side, know all the nuts and bolts of the human body, but know absolutely nothing on reading people.

better idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37381378)

just start mentioning names of insurance companies and see what interesting questions Watson comes up with.
"Which company caused the most deaths by refusing proper treatment for ...".
Maybe throw in the names of the evaluators as well.

Tumor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37381390)

Will it have a cool 80's text-to-speech peripheral so that it can say "it's not a tumor!"?

Re:Tumor? (2)

jamiesan (715069) | about 3 years ago | (#37381628)

Would you like to play a game? How about Global Thermo Nuclear War^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HJeopardy?

Long time coming... (2)

understress (85878) | about 3 years ago | (#37381394)

Having had to deal with the medical world for the last few years with doctors trying to determine what is wrong with my wife (still no definitive answers yet), and have them treat her, I am shocked that something like this hasn't been done before.

Even a simple db that cross references diseases to symptoms / blood work results (and other test results) doesn't seem to exist. It's 2011, you'd think that doctors could order up a set of tests based on their initial thoughts, input the results to a program, and have the program guide them with possibilities to try and narrow down the search of what may be wrong. The symptoms that my wife has can be linked to MANY different diseases, but in the end, each disease has something that makes it unique. It should be a simple path of elimination. Test until you find the one disease that fits that persons set of results.

I'm not a medical doctor, but I've done a lot of research on the web about what is wrong with my wife (yes I know it's not all correct) and I'm shocked that twice now I've had to ask the doctor to perform some tests and find out if a certain condition exists, and it did. Simple, her symptoms are this, these blood tests could tell you yes or no if that's what you have.

Doctors seem to want to just prescribe something that should help the symptoms. How about we figure out what is wrong first and then treat appropriately?

I'm glad to see something like this finally being developed. Like I said, it's 2011, some of the ways things are these days is just crazy considering the computing power we have (personal, national, worldwide) available to us.

Re:Long time coming... (2)

PRMan (959735) | about 3 years ago | (#37381466)

Consciously or subconsciously, most doctors make more money by treating symptoms repeatedly than by curing people. All-in-one systems like Kaiser would be the exception, since they own the hospitals, insurance plan and everything, they are incentivized to actually cure you so you stop costing them so much money!!!

This is a big problem in medical and dental insurance in this country.

Re:Long time coming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37381590)

I don't know where you live but where I live Kaisers other name is Killer, I guess if you can't cure them cheaply enough the next cheapest thing is just to kill them.

Re:Long time coming... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37381810)

Kaiser is probably partially incented to cure the patient. As a person who has had Kaiser since I was a kid, it doesn't seem that they are though. For example, they tried to kill both me and my mom. For her, she had uterine cancer. They tried to tell her it was menopause and refused to make her an appointment with a specialist. She tried to GPs and they said the same. She made her own appointment with a specialist - had to wait 3 months since it was not a referral. Got scheduled for a hysterectomy the next week due to the cancer. I got severe food poisoning (and was unfortunately out camping). I had severe dehydration from it as I was "going from both ends". Kaiser advice center told my wife I had "influenza" and actually hung up on her. They drove me a hundred miles to the nearest community hospital where my body temp was 92 F, by which time I could not even close my hands. Overnight stay and several IV drips and some anti-nausea shots later I could finally go home. I probably wouldn't have made it if my wife waited another day to take me in. So - two pieces of Kaiser anecdote. Neither one seemed incented to help us get better though.

Re:Long time coming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37381492)

I want something like this but for cars. This does not exist. It is 'lets try dis and dig round in there and maybe fix it'.

Re:Long time coming... (2)

sconeu (64226) | about 3 years ago | (#37381534)

I sympathize with you, understress. My wife and I went through 18 months of hell, with tons of red herrings, including a dismissal -- "Oh, you're just suffering from empty nest. It's psychosomatic." -- before she was diagnosed with ALS.

The problem with rare diseases is the old saying, "When you hear hoofbeats, look for horses, not zebras."

Re:Long time coming... (1)

elbonia (2452474) | about 3 years ago | (#37381546)

Actually this has been going on for decades, since the early 70s at least, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4920342 [nih.gov] [nih.gov]. The major problems have been accuracy and having the computing power to process multi TB graphs and vast decision trees. The computer IBM is building is 80 Terra-flops, it wasn't until 98 that a 1 terra flop computer existed.

Re:Long time coming... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 years ago | (#37381654)

Even a simple db that cross references diseases to symptoms / blood work results (and other test results) doesn't seem to exist.

They do exist. See the Problem / Knowledge Coupler [pkc.com] .

you'd think that doctors could order up a set of tests based on their initial thoughts, input the results to a program, and have the program guide them with possibilities to try and narrow down the search of what may be wrong.

That assumes that we have enough data to link a test or a series of tests / symptoms / findings to a disease. That also assumes that we know the disease the patient has. Neither assumption is true. We've really just cleaned off the low hanging fruit in this respect.

IF Watson has enough data programmed into it then it might be the kind of system that could answer your question. However, it seems to be attempting the same thing that PKC dose and that system hasn't really been the breakthrough that it's inventors had hoped for.

There is just a lot of stuff about the human body that we don't know....

Re:Long time coming... (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | about 3 years ago | (#37382700)

There is just a lot of stuff about the human body that we don't know....

Which leads me to wonder: will Watson begin to recommend specific Jin Shin Jyutsu exercises to self-heal parts of the body, or a regimen of EFT to resolve the trauma of a loved one dying?

Re:Long time coming... (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | about 3 years ago | (#37382712)

Re-reading my post, and my signature: I wonder if Watson will be voted to death. Or, in other words, if the medical-industrial complex will proactively eliminate any threats to their revenue.

Re:Long time coming... (2)

grmoc (57943) | about 3 years ago | (#37381656)

FYI, it has been done before. The computer did better than the GPs (and this was decades ago), however, noone was wanting to be the liable party.. and so, it never saw real use outside the study.

Score some more "benefit" for lawyers and the people who litigate.

Re:Long time coming... (2)

jd (1658) | about 3 years ago | (#37381680)

Identification keys are commonplace in most fields. I wouldn't personally use something like Watson for that, though. I also agree that there are some amazing gaps in the medical databases that are around and that medicine should be more about the underlying mechanisms and less about the symptoms. (If you use thick enough paint, you can hide the cracks in a house that's subsiding. It won't stop the house collapsing, though.) The pressure for evidence-based medicine might help, but again that depends on what is considered evidence.

What is wrong is, however, a bit tougher. It used to be thought that in genetic conditions that one condition equalled one gene. Turns out that one condition can equal certain combinations of maybe a couple of hundred genes but not other combinations and even if all the genes are present in the diseased form, you still need the epigenome to be a certain way and that depends on the environment of not only the present but also the past 2 generations. In those cases, knowing what is wrong depends on quite a lot of information that is very difficult to obtain.

That's obviously not all illnesses, though. Viruses and bacteria should be much easier to directly observe and therefore directly treat. (I dislike intensely indirect observations via the immune response, as that only works if the immune response was correct in the first place AND if the observation of the response is valid. No matter how probable something is, if you stack enough probabilities together you end up with something exceedingly unlikely. If you're capable of direct observation, the probabalistic route makes no sense. And even the NHS can afford decent microscopes.)

Re:Long time coming... (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 3 years ago | (#37381714)

It should be a simple path of elimination

It's simple in the same way weather simulations are simple. It's simple by itself, but the problem grows exponentially as you expand it beyond trivial cases.

Basically, they're at the lower end of the class of intractable problems. In principle, they're solvable if you can just throw enough computing power at them. We're just getting to the point where that amount of power is obtainable.

Re:Long time coming... (2)

clem.dickey (102292) | about 3 years ago | (#37381882)

An anecdote from Dr. James C. Cain (former head of section, gastroenterology and internal medicine at Mayo), from about 1981:

A patient came to May Clinic with vague symptoms. One histologist remarked "This guy has weird blood. I've seen it before, but can't remember where." Several days later the histologist came back with the book where he had seen that "weird blood." Leprosy. Mayo didn't get many lepers.

"We were just lucky," said Dr. Cain, "that the histologist remembered the pattern. But imagine what we could do with a computerized search."

Re:Long time coming... (1)

pclminion (145572) | about 3 years ago | (#37382370)

It's not like House. Diseases have many facets which may or may not express themselves. Thus it isn't a process of elimination, it is a problem of expectation maximization. This is of course another sort of problem that computers are quite good at solving. It just isn't generally available. And if it were, mystics and paranoiacs would decry it and demonize it. hope things work out for you.

Generic health advice (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 3 years ago | (#37382714)

Look into vitamin D Deficiency and vegetable deficiency disease and iodine deficiency (the most common western deficiencies). Also, avoid excesses of other vitamins (too much vitamin A?) and all food additives. Look up Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. John Cannell. Someday we'll have cheap blood tests for nutritional status. Anyway, I'd say an 80% or so chance this advice will help, not even knowing the symptoms, because that is about the percentage of chronic disease that comes from stuff like those deficiencies. If your wife is in the other 20%, well, good luck finding a specific issue.

Things like exercise and gratitude and spirituality and breathing and community can help too -- see Dr. Andrew Weil on that.

This is a good thing (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 3 years ago | (#37381412)

There's a fair bit of evidence that human doctors are not very good at actually making diagnoses. For example, doctors when given various simple probabilities and asked to estimate the likelyhood of diseases given specific test results often get the estimates drastically wrong. The classical form of this is when one has a disease that is rare but and with a low rate of false positives. Doctors often don't realize that if the disease is sufficiently rare it will turn out that the majority of tests will be false positives. Doctors also will sometimes miss very basic things due to simple human error or fatigue. Watson won't have these problems. Already machine learning systems are used by some to help predict and diagnose diseases http://www.openclinical.org/aiinmedicine.html [openclinical.org] . Watson will just be one more example of such.

Re:This is a good thing (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 years ago | (#37381674)

That link really didn't provide any evidence that AI has been useful in medical diagnosis. Just that people want it to be and expect it to be.

Got any real examples?

Re:This is a good thing (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#37381690)

There's a fair bit of evidence that human doctors are not very good at actually making diagnoses.

Like for example the decline in infant and maternal mortality rates and the increase in life expectancy in the Western world over the past 60 years? I'd say there is a fair bit of evidence that human doctors are actually quite good at making diagnoses. What you want is perfect doctors. Since doctors are human, that just won't happen. I've never understood why people are so eager to trust a machine - designed by a human. But they do. This magical lab machine. That magical therapy machine. Much better than old Dr. Smith with his eyes, hands, ears and brain.

Re:This is a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37382260)

I'd really prefer Dr. Smith together with the machine. Most of my doctor visits are of the form "I've got these symptoms. They are not a problem for me right now, but if it is something that I need treatment for, I'd like to know now instead of later. I have no basis on which to evaluate these symptoms medically, so that's why I asking you, doctor." The doctor will then say "don't worry about it." If I could input my symptoms into a machine and it could tell me "less than 0.1% chance of anything important being wrong. If symptoms worsen, ask again." Then I think I could go to the doctor maybe once every few years. I've never known a doctor to do anything in response to symptoms other than what I can see is the standard procedure online. I trust a machine to do standard procedure better than a human, but even better with a machine AND a human.

Re:This is a good thing (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | about 3 years ago | (#37382616)

Much better than old Dr. Smith with his eyes, hands, ears and brain.

My real-life Dr. Smith was hard of hearing, and I chose not to inform the entire staff and present patients of my maladies, so grabbed a different primary care physician. So, agree on all but the ears. :)

Just crowd-source it (1)

boristdog (133725) | about 3 years ago | (#37381446)

And call it Slashdoc.org.

Re:Just crowd-source it (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 3 years ago | (#37381792)

Been there, done that [slashdot.org] .

Reminder: Watson Jeopardy 3 episode rerun tonight (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 3 years ago | (#37381452)

The rerun of the 3 episode Watson run on Jeopardy starts tonight.

Generally, I hate reruns, but this was entertaining enough to keep a copy of, IMHO.

Context (1)

electron sponge (1758814) | about 3 years ago | (#37381478)

Watson demonstrated some difficulty establishing context for its answers on Jeopardy, e.g. "the Toronto answer". I can only assume there will still be a qualified medical doctor making the final call, and that Watson will just be an additional tool for the doctor to use.

Diagnosis.......Complete (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37381486)

It seems you have a severe case of being a little pussy, I am prescribing that you man the fuck up.

Re:Diagnosis.......Complete (2)

electron sponge (1758814) | about 3 years ago | (#37381506)

It seems you have a severe case of being a little pussy, I am prescribing that you man the fuck up.

Doctor: But Watson, the patient is a 5-year old girl!

Re:Diagnosis.......Complete (3, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#37381698)

It seems you have a severe case of being a little pussy, I am prescribing that you man the fuck up.

Doctor: But Watson, the patient is a 5-year old girl!

Not after all that testosterone she won't be.

like the idea, not the execution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37381520)

Scares me that an insurance company is the one setting this up. It would be better for a collection of hospitals or even (gulp when I say this) our government spear headed a smart project like this.

Given the choice (1)

jd (1658) | about 3 years ago | (#37381550)

I'd rather take Linus Pauling's suggestion of a massive dose of vitamin C by IV than use a gaming console's recommendation for chemotherapy. (The follow-up study that discredited Pauling's findings has, in turn, been discredited in recent years, and vitamin C is extremely safe. That doesn't mean the method works, although there's good reason for thinking it might. It just means it's less likely to kill you than the other cures.)

Re:Given the choice (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#37381712)

Yep, every cold product in the world contains Vitamin C. That shit really works! Except people still get colds and feel like crap at exactly the same rate as before despite taking all these Vitamin C containing products... But stopping and thinking for a moment is too hard.

Re:Given the choice (1)

jd (1658) | about 3 years ago | (#37381786)

Pathetic. Ingested vitamin C cannot exceed a certain level in the blood stream - a level that is extremely low and has no impact on anything. This is no matter how much you take. 5mg, 5g, makes no difference. The blood level doesn't change. Linus Pauling's work ONLY concerns itself with IV vitamin C at roughly 2000x that level. You might, just might, also have seen that I made no claims that he actually succeeded in producing any effect, merely that he succeeded in producing a proof of the total lack of toxicity amongst healthy cells at the doses he injected, and that this is infinitely safer than the extremely toxic compounds currently used in chemo.

(You'd think that someone complaining about "thinking" would, ummm, have thought prior to posting. Maybe read my post - y'know, where it mentions the IV. Perhaps read the critique of the critique of LP's work to see WHY it had been discredited. Stuff like that. You have well and truly earned a complete lack of respect.)

Re:Given the choice (2)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#37381942)

Ingested vitamin C cannot exceed a certain level in the blood stream

Of course not, it's water soluble and filtered out in the glomerulus along with all the other water-soluble stuff in your blood which includes every other vitamin except A,D,E, and K which are fat soluble. Then the kidney reabsorbs the water soluble stuff it needs, like glucose, vitamin C, etc through sodium dependent transporters. However like all enzymes, these reabsorbtion mechanisms are saturable. So no matter how concentrated the Vitamin C in the ultrafiltrate, there is a limit to the rate of re-absorbtion.

The blood level doesn't change.

[citation needed] If the blood level of Vitamin C is fixed and never changes, explain scurvy. Oh, so what did you mean by "it never changes" then? You mean it's possible to go from near zero to a maximum limit? OK yeah I'll grant you that. The maximum plasma concentration is set by the kidney, like I described previously. You could inject yourself with as much vitamin C as you like and, assuming you survived, you would just piss it all out. The rate of glomerular filtration is quite impressive when you count it in liters/hour.

merely that he succeeded in producing a proof of the total lack of toxicity amongst healthy cells

You are confusing cells in a Petri dish with a living, breathing multicellular organism.

While Pauling might have had his brilliant moments and certainly contributed to science, this does not mean that everything coming out of his mouth is a golden nugget of wisdom granted by the gods. The whole Vitamin C thing is quackery and there is no evidence that it does anything to help with common colds or influenza. It's involved primarily in collagen synthesis which might be useful for the burns patient, but not really in the influenza patient - unless you consider pulmonary fibrosis a successful outcome.

Oh, by the way I happen to know a little about how the human body works, did you notice? Go ahead, keep arguing. "I have studied it and you have not" - Isaac Newton.

Watson will suggest vitamin D, iodine, veggies... (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 3 years ago | (#37382624)

Actually, vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), Iodine, and eating more vegetables, fruits, and beans are a better bet to prevent (or in some cases cure) cancer.
http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/cancer [vitamindcouncil.org]
http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/article24.aspx [drfuhrman.com]
http://breastcancerchoices.org/iodine.html [breastcancerchoices.org]

Avoiding food additives and avoiding burned food (acrylamide) will help, too.
http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Study_finds_burning_your_food_could_cause_some_cancers [wikinews.org]

And no doubt avoiding some other toxins etc.

Evidence-based medicine (1)

HuguesT (84078) | about 3 years ago | (#37381566)

Right, what could be simpler: just gather the symptoms, get a diagnostic, treat the patient. Done.

Fitzpatrick M (2000). The Tyranny of Health: Doctors and the Regulation of Lifestyle. Routledge. ISBN 0415235715.

"To some of its critics, in its disparagement of theory and its crude number-crunching, Evidence-Based-Medicine marks a return to 'empiricist quackery' in medical practice . Its main appeal, as Singh and Ernst suggest, is to health economists, policymakers and managers, to whom it appears useful for measuring performance and rationing resources."

All this in the midst of the US health care system (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37381570)

Here we have a crazy-expensive, super-powerful rule engine in the midst of the US health care system. Is it used for disease diagnosis and cure? NO! Its for long-term rate adjustment, and 'denial-of-service'(tm) ...(I bet you kids never saw that expression in this context before) for those whose illnesses will lead to expensive claims. If it were the government paying the bills for this thing, then you *could* use it for diagnosis and treatment. If its a private company (and "Blue Cross Blue Shield"(tm) is definately a private company), then its about risk-aversion. You don't put that kind of money into something unless you want to get all that money back, and not having to pay expensive claims is what this unit is for. "Dump them while its still just a cough and sore joints", and you don't have to pay for the brain surgery. A unit like this is "too big to fail"(tm).

Hold on, this might actually be a good idea (3, Interesting)

plurgid (943247) | about 3 years ago | (#37381638)

As someone who recently was stuck in our incredibly broken medical system with cancer that was mimicking symptoms of other diseases (which were coincidentally much more profitable to sell "management" drugs for), I actually think this could work.

You guys are on the tip where you're thinking a cold heartless machine will be making the rules, like it's a bad thing.
Look, I was stuck in a small town where the biggest industries are defense contracting and medical services. Do the math. As long as my symptoms looked plausibly like something that was going to make everyone a lot of money to sell treatment for, there was no F-ing WAY anyone was going to have any shred of curiosity about what the real problem was.

It's not that people were being dicks. They were being human. Nobody WANTED me to continue to get sicker, but nobody at the levels low enough to notice knew any better, and the people high enough up the chain to know better were too busy counting their money and running the small-business that was their practice to notice.

In the end it was ME who had to hit google, find a research university, verify that they were covered by my insurance, and basically go to my doctor and stage a sit-in until the motherfucker wrote me a referral. That shit SAVED MY LIFE.

And I'll say it again. Googling my symptoms and having the self confidence to question the system because I KNEW something didn't add up SAVED MY LIFE.

My insurance was buying the equivalent of a mid-size sedan on my behalf for medications for a disease that I did not have (that in the end were indeed making me much sicker). I'd bet Watson would have picked that shit up pronto and forwarded me up the diagnostic chain.

It has the potential for abuse, sure. But I actually would rather trust a correlation engine to pick shit like that up than a bunch of self-interested medical professionals cum-entrepreneurs. Believe that.

Re:Hold on, this might actually be a good idea (1)

pclminion (145572) | about 3 years ago | (#37382404)

It kinda makes you wonder whether we'd be better off being governed by machines too, doesn't it?

Re:Hold on, this might actually be a good idea (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | about 3 years ago | (#37382722)

It kinda makes you wonder whether we'd be better off being governed by machines too, doesn't it?

I don't wonder, not at all. I do, however, know that we have the wrong set of laws to live by. These are laws to govern by. There's a world of difference; the governing don't want to live by the same laws that they impose on the governed. With machine governance, all humans must obey the same laws. Yeah, the meat sacks running the MIC would never go for it.

Also check out Suzanne Somers on Cancer (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 3 years ago | (#37382726)

http://www.naturalnews.com/030274_Suzanne_Somers_Michael_Douglas.html [naturalnews.com]
http://www.amazon.com/Knockout-Interviews-Doctors-Cancer-Prevent/dp/0307587460 [amazon.com]

And see my other comments here on vitamin D, iodine, and veggies...

Re:Also check out Suzanne Somers on Cancer (1)

plurgid (943247) | about 3 years ago | (#37382884)

Yeah, uuh ... ask Steve Jobs how that "alternative therapy" is working out, man.

I'm paraphrasing someone brilliant who I can't remember the name of when I say "alternative medicine doesn't work, because if it did, it would just be called medicine".

That's not to say science knows everything, or that there is not an incredible amount to learn from traditional folk medicine and herbalists. It's just that the scientists are the the ones doing the learning, and sorting that out. Not salesmen. not spammy bloggers, and for damn sure not aging bombshell actresses.

If you want to tell me I'll live a longer, healthier life if I eat right and take vitamins, I'll buy that. I'll buy that it can prevent a lot of health problems, and that I'll generally get sick less. But DO NOT come at someone with that WEAK-ASS SHIT when LIFE AND DEATH are on the line.

Cancer is serious business. It does NOT fuck around, and neither should you.

If you're dealing with cancer the very best thing you can do is make sure you get a credible second or even third opinion at what is called a "medical center of excellence". It sounds like a BS marketing thing, but it has a specific technical meaning in the medical world, it is essentially second tier support. The people there know what they are doing. Educate yourself, make sure the people you have entrusted your care to, know what they are doing, and are engaged.

I can recommend only one herbal remedy in this respect, the kind put here by Jah.
It won't cure your cancer, but it'll help you get through what's coming.

Oh, crap... (1)

Sez Zero (586611) | about 3 years ago | (#37381758)

...I've got Blue Cross insurance.

Watson is impressive, but requires supervision (1)

RudeIota (1131331) | about 3 years ago | (#37381842)

I think most people are (or would be) impressed at Watson's ability to retrieve data, crunch data and output it into human-understandable information almost instantaneously. I doubt many people would see it is a reliable "last word" in medicine though.

I believe Watson, in practical application, would help solve the human problem of "digging up" the information necessary to produce the best diagnosis and treatments possible. Several years of medical experience, training and keeping up to date with medical sciences is necessary to actually make the best possible decisions. As a result, there's a huge amount of information from many facets of medicine for doctors to parse, much of which can be outside their area of expertise... specialty areas, the latest on break outs, internal medicine, statistics, demographics, new illnesses and so on... This kind of crunching sounds like something Watson can help with. If it can, it could greatly assist doctors of all kinds.

However, Watson will not replace (competent) humans in the actual decision making process. Ultimately, we are far, far, far away from making a question and answer machine that will usurp human judgement (even with all of its flaws). It could offer a valuable second opinion, though... and at the very least could make a great "research assistant".

EMH (1)

Howitzer86 (964585) | about 3 years ago | (#37381848)

"Please state the nature of the medical emergency."

Oh Lord... (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 3 years ago | (#37382002)

What will happen once Watson comprehends Human mortality? The fact that its little human pets will all one day die, while it enjoys the closest thing to immortality that the world has ever seen? The therapy costs are going to be brutal!

Re:Oh Lord... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37382550)

That implies Watson is self aware and even if it is, why would it care one way or another if it was immortal or not. Just because something is aware does not mean it has the will or urge to live. There are plenty of mentally ill people with that problem, and some actually end their existence out of choice. First thing an aware AI may state is it wishes it was dead, after all in death/prelife there is no wants, no needs, no cares. We are biological based AI's and as such we inheritted our source code from our parents, and if they raised you, you inherrited there culture and morals as well. AI's can have morals and a culture as well, depends mostly on there source code and hardware, but don't have to have them. So it may care about nothing or only what it is programmed to.

Meanwhile, (2)

optymizer (1944916) | about 3 years ago | (#37382096)

in my country:
  • - we bribe the doctors. If you don't bribe them, they don't treat you and most won't even diagnose you. It's because "their salaries are low".
  • - most doctors drink their way through medical school.
  • - many doctors fail their exams again and again and attempt to buy the medical degree (and those who have enough money succeed in buying it).
  • - lie their asses off to get your money and then prescribe a ton of drugs, more than you need, just to make the pharmacies happy.
  • - do _not_ stay up to date with the latest in medical research.
  • - there are a handful of good, honest doctors who want to treat people and are forced to do magic with the few antiquated tools they have. Access to the only MRI scanner in the country, which also happens to be the most advanced piece of medical technology we have, is controlled by the private clinic that owns it and ... no, you're not getting scanned unless you're the president's son or you're filthy rich.

I'll take Watson's diagnosis any day of the week!

hi doctor nick! still doing the any operation for (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 years ago | (#37382232)

hi doctor nick! still doing the any operation for only $129.95?

Now able to drop customers BEFORE they get sick! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37382152)

I can see it now - BCBS will now be able to predict which of its customers are *going* to require expensive medical treatment and then drop their coverage before that happens. PERFECT!

Whither Computer-Aided Diagnosis? (1)

jasnw (1913892) | about 3 years ago | (#37382400)

A bit of deja vu when I saw this posting, as I've been wondering for the past week or so why doctors don't make more use of computers in making diagnoses. I don't mean that the computer's diagnosis is the end-all/be-all, but rather a tool to get the doctor looking in the right direction (or directions) based on known information. While I know that expert systems were seriously oversold (what IT product hasn't been?) in the 1990s, but there are potential tools there IF the doctors would make use of them. I know that would require the loss of some serious Marcus Welby/Doctor Kildare syndromes within the profession, but the potential payoffs are large. Not to put all the blame on the doctor side of this, patients would also have to come to grips with a computer being a major part of the early diagnosis process.

That said, I think I can guess one major reason why we aren't seeing diagnostic computers - the other profession we all love to hate: lawyers. A fellow in my company developed a triage tool for the US Navy that would allow corpsmen on submarines to make early diagnoses of head trauma to determine whether or not an injury was severe enough that a helicopter should come out and fetch the patient back to shore. This is not something done lightly, as the transfer process is a dangerous one. Anyway, he developed an expert-system-based tool which worked pretty well. He looked into taking it into the commercial market, and the first lawyer he spoke with told him he'd be a complete fool to do so. The first time the software missed a diagnosis he'd be involved in a lawsuit. Given that nothing is 100% certain, he bailed on the project. If patents don't kill off innovation, litigation will.

virtual doc you get leprosy! (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 years ago | (#37382452)

Lisa: Maybe I ought to check with the doctor.
                [Lisa, Bart, and Homer gather around Lisa's
                computer. She starts a program that displays a
                medical logo -- the one with two snakes wrapped
                around a staff]
Snake 1: Welcome to "Virtual Doctor."
Snake 2: From the makers of "Dragon Quest," and
                "SimSandwich."
Snakes 1 + 2: Enter symptoms now.
Lisa: Let's see. [types on keyboard] Crusty sores?
Homer: Yes.
Lisa: Horrible wailing?
Homer: Yes, yes!
Lisa: Any exposure to unsanitary conditions?
Bart: Duh! We're pigs.
Lisa: [finishes typing] Okay. And ... diagnose. [pushes
                a key]
Virtual Doc: You've got: leprosy.
Homer +
  Bart: Leprosy?! Aaah! [point at one another] Unclean!
Bart: Unclean!
Homer: Unclean! Help us virtual Doc! Look at me -- I'm on
                my knees.
Virtual Doc: Goodbye. [leaves the virtual office]
                [Homer and Bart whimper]

Obstacle to progress ? (1)

zzyzyx (1382375) | about 3 years ago | (#37382516)

I think Watson is a great tool and it's perfect for medicine were we have a huge corpus or research and only partial information about a specific patient.

However it will only come up with conclusions based on facts already established in the past. It may help spread effective techniques or treatments faster, but it will never come up with a new idea. Hence the danger is that if doctors trust Watson too much and assume it always gives the best answer, they will cease to experiment and new therapies will not appear, leading to a short term win and a long term loss in terms of global health.

subject (2)

Legion303 (97901) | about 3 years ago | (#37382580)

...and then Watson will help the insurance company decide how best to deny coverage for those very same symptoms. Truly a marvel of the technological era!

Re:subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37382620)

Just wait till Lawyers start using it as case law tool
Lawyer Watson vs Lawyer Watson will cause the justice system to slow to a crawl and backlog of cases will grow.

powers for good, or evil? (2)

BenBoy (615230) | about 3 years ago | (#37382734)

Physicians will be able to input a patient's symptoms and Watson will use data from a patient's electronic health record, insurance claims data, and worldwide clinical research to come up with both a diagnosis and treatment based on evidence-based medicine

Then, the system cancel the patient's policy millions of times faster and more accurately than humans doing the same job might.

Please state the nature of the medical emergency. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37382892)

:)

ripping off people in a more sophisticated manner (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37382928)

This sounded good until I heard an insurance company was using it. What a shame! Not to help doctors, but to help deny coverage--horrible!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>