Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s Newest Medical Student: IBM Watson
While there is nothing elementary about cancer care, IBM’s famous Watson will be in training as an oncologist at NYC’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The IBM-Sloan-Kettering team hopes that Watson technology, capable of processing large datasets in response to natural language questions, will ideally help clinicians apply evidence-based principles to diagnostics and treatment.
Together, IBM and Sloan-Kettering will “feed” Watson information from medical textbooks, the most recent publications in cancer research, the hospital’s clinical data, and with patients’ permission, individual medical records. As Watson processes more information, the team will test the super computer on increasingly challenging cancer cases. Watson is expected to reduce the growing scientific literature to relevant, actionable information for the treatment of individual patients.
Dr. Larry Norton, the deputy chief for breast cancer programs at Sloan-Kettering, quipped to the Boston Globe, “The capabilities are enormous… and unlike my medical students, Watson doesn't forget anything.” Most impressive to Dr. Norton is Watson’s ability to process natural language in plain text form (physician notes); with this, Watson will contextualize the data to provide better recommendations to physicians.
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