IBM’s Watson has got most doctors beat!

I’ve read this article about Watson, a computer that analyses medical data and can make diagnoses for real life patients. It turns out that Watson is getting smarter than regular doctors! Not all that surprising. Computers don’t rest, don’t need sleep and can “remember” all (and lets face it, we mean all) scientific research papers, patient data, operation data, side effects of medicine and has a battery of statistics backing up his own diagnose to form his own second opinion.

Well, that apparently tends to make Watson better in his diagnoses of cancer. Let me give you this extract of the article giving us some figures and allowing you to wrap your head around his technology:

For the last year, IBM, Sloan-Kettering and Wellpoint have been working to teach Watson how to understand and accumulate complicated peer-reviewed medical knowledge relating to oncology. That’s just lung, prostate and breast cancers to begin with, but with others to come in the next few years). Watson’s ingestion of more than 600,000 pieces of medical evidence, more than two million pages from medical journals and the further ability to search through up to 1.5 million patient records for further information gives it a breadth of knowledge no human doctor can match.

This, in my opinion, doesn’t mean doctors will become obsolete just yet. But it may reduce the need of GP’s (general practitioners or ‘family doctors’). Well maybe not in treatment of wound and such but in prescribing medecine and giving correct information on treating your illness.

I think some of you might say  “but computers make mistakes, not to mention how (far to) often software crashes”, Well yes. That is very much a thing, but i’ve found some figures here on how many misdiagnoses GP’s make (these are mostly percentages but i’ve found a”  failure to rescue” of 155 in 1000 due to misdiagnosis. These figures vary of course from a hospital to GP’s and so on) But the point is, doctor’s make mistakes too! Watson doesn’t have to be perfect, just better that us…

Right, let’s get commenting! would you like a doctor you can visit at the pharmacy? just a computer screen maybe some measuring systems (heart rate, blood pressure, maybe even blood/urine sampler)?

I would like the idea for more common things like influenza and infections and to ease your mind when you’re feeling hypochondriac!

What about you? A computer doctor or just your good old GP?

Link to the article:
http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-02/11/ibm-watson-medical-doctor
Link to IBM Watson’s page for a very wide scan of his capabilities:
http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/ibmwatson/
link to misdiagnosis page:
http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/intro/common.htm

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4 thoughts on “IBM’s Watson has got most doctors beat!

  1. frederikroosens

    At this stage, I think the computer beats the doctors when it comes to a diagnosis that requires ‘hard’, measurement data, such as blood pressures, levels of certain substances in a body, temperature etc… However, a computer cannot handle subjective feelings and emotions, in contrary to a human doctor. Pain and suffering is per definition subjective, so if a diagnosis should be based on those criteria, humans will still be needed. In my opinion the ideal case would be a computer diagnosis that can be verified by a human doctor, to exclude psycho-somatical complaints.

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  2. Xiao.QIN

    Perhaps in this area, a computer doctor is far more attractive than a human doctor…I do prefer a human to interact with. Since people’s judgement may be influenced by a lot of factors, and when it comes to health related issues I don’t want my human doctor’s misdiagnose. So..yes! Computers do beat human sometimes.

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  3. alexandervankerckhoven

    I think human contact becomes more and more obsolete. People start buying clothes and other stuff online instead of stores. The same with contact with human doctor’s: smartwatches and smartbracelets already give your heartbeat and other things of your movement. Bracelets like these will make going to the doctor maybe even not necesarry in the future, that’s what I’m thinking about it.

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  4. antonnulens Post author

    In my opinion it doesn’t necessarily mean no human or social contact. Much has to do with ease of use and also maybe not having “hard-sellers” around you whilst shopping, urging you to buy more than you want.

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