Watson is a computer known for defeating the world’s best “Jeopardy!” players. Watson can understand plain language. IBM says he can take in questions about a person’s symptoms and medical history and quickly suggest a diagnoses and treatment. IBM is two years away from marketing a medical Watson. It isn’t the first such of its kind on the medical market. Some of its rivals aren’t impressed. ‘Isabel ‘ is an existing private medical database known already in use by some hospital health systems. Jason Maude, who is the co-founder said, “It’s kind of what we’ve had for about 10 years.”
Dr. Herbert Chase says Watson will know the latest treatment guidelines. “You have to match the right treatment with each unique patient. You can’t treat everybody with high blood pressure the same way; a 75-year-old man with prostate cancer who felt dizzy last week and a 32-year-old woman,” he said. Some wonder if many hospitals will pay the millions of dollars for the computer. Dan Pelino, IBM’s general manager for global health care, said hospitals won’t have to buy a complete Watson system if they prefer. He said a doctor can connect to the Watson database by using a hand held device which also has speech recognition capabilities. Watson also serves as a repository for advanced research in cancer and provides an instant second opinion. “You can imagine someone asking Watson a question on an iPad as they’re walking down the hall. It might get updates like a GPS,” Dr. Chase said.