So, how is IBM’s Watson doing? I have no idea because after the big hoopla of how great it was going to be I never heard another peep out of, well, anyone. Now I have heard some things and it isn’t great:
But three years after IBM began selling Watson to recommend the best cancer treatments to doctors around the world, a STAT investigation has found that the supercomputer isn’t living up to the lofty expectations IBM created for it. It is still struggling with the basic step of learning about different forms of cancer. Only a few dozen hospitals have adopted the system, which is a long way from IBM’s goal of establishing dominance in a multibillion-dollar market. And at foreign hospitals, physicians complained its advice is biased toward American patients and methods of care.
And there was this:
At its heart, Watson for Oncology uses the cloud-based supercomputer to digest massive amounts of data — from doctor’s notes to medical studies to clinical guidelines. But its treatment recommendations are not based on its own insights from these data. Instead, they are based exclusively on training by human overseers, who laboriously feed Watson information about how patients with specific characteristics should be treated.
Based on training by human overseers? Isn’t that like having a digital EMR but having to fax information to give to another provider who then scans it so it is digital again? Oh, yeah, we still do that.
This blog has talked about Watson before and I highly recommend you read these links:
- Computerized Medicine is No Solution by Steve Vaughn MD
- Watson, Come Here, We Need You by Aaron Levine MD
- Dr. Watson Bullsh%t Again
Someday, Watson may really be great but I still don’t think it will replace us. There are too many nuances in patient care that computers can’t pick up. But it does make great headlines for PR, doesn’t it?