Watson from Jeopardy! may change the face of medicine

Watson from Jeopardy! may change the face of medicine

IBM is looking to turn its supercomputer into a behemoth that can rip through huge volumes of data, and has spent $1 billion and partnered with CVS in its bid to do so.

Remember that IBM supercomputer named Watson from Jeopardy! a few years back that destroyed stars like Ken Jennings on the popular trivia television game show? IBM wants to use it to change the world.

Some recently headline-grabbing moves by the computer giant IBM have been done with Watson in mind, including their latest: a $1 billion deal to acquire medical imaging company Merge Healthcare. The move comes just a couple weeks after an announced partnership with pharmacy CVS — also done to assist Watson.

But what does IBM want to do with Watson, which seemed like a nice little novelty act? It wants it to change the face of medicine, and is willing to invest the time, effort, and big bucks to make that happened, as these latest moves have shown.

How? Watson is a super-intelligent computer that can answer difficult questions that are posed in natural human language, making it an excellent tool for coming through vast amounts of medical data and research. And that’s why IBM bought Merge Healthcare: it wants access to its data and images, which will be combined with Watson’s cloud-based healthcare system, giving the supercomputer access to vast amounts of data it can comb through and compare with clinical research in order to solve tough, complex problems that humans wouldn’t be able to handle.

This acquisition came very shortly after an announced partnership with CVS, which is aimed at improve patient care. Watson would have access to patient data, which it can then use it analysis skills to help healthcare practitioners handle medical claims. It can also help people suffering with chronic problems and, if the trial is successful, could be expanded to ordinary patient problems.

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