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IBM puts Watson to work in health

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WellPoint and IBM this week announced an agreement to put Watson, an artificial intelligence computer system that can answer questions in natural language to work in healthcare.

Watson is both famous and infamous for beating the all-time highest winner on the Jeopardy quiz show in a two-game match.

WellPoint will develop and launch Watson-based solutions to improve patient care through the analysis of massive amounts of medical research and patient data. Watson’s ability to rapidly sift through nearly 200 million pages of data and analyze theinformation in three seconds will help to identify the most likely diagnosis and treatment options for patients. Watson will serve as a powerful decision-support tool to physicians and nurses ‚ helping to answer multi-part medical questions based on the intricate and often complex relationships between disease, patient history, and treatment. Watson’s efficiency will help to streamline communication between a patient’s physician and health plan ‚ cutting diagnosis time and suggesting the most effective treatment and physician for a particular case. Providing physicians the best clinical data the moment that it is needed will improve how healthcare is delivered. “We believe this will be an invaluableresource for our partnering physicians and will dramatically enhance the quality and effectiveness of medical care they deliver to our members.”” said Sam Nussbaum, M.D., WellPoint’s Chief Medical Officer. Depending on the progress of the development efforts, WellPoint anticipatesemploying Watson technology in early 2012, working with select physician groups in clinical pilots.

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