Instructor: David Schuff, Section 003

Tapping Into IBM’s Watson to Assist in Tele-Medical Services

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IBM’s machine learning/Artificial Intelligence poster child, Watson, has been used for a vast array of needs across numerous different industries. Telemedicine provider Teladoc has began to utilize Watson for its own remote consultation platform. Teladoc has provided specialist consultations through a remote avenue since 2002, but seems to be ramping up its business offerings as of 2015 when it officially went public.

Teladoc utilizes Watson in a way which truly encapsulates the benefit of artificial intelligence and its advantage over the human brain. By utilizing its available directory of medical literature, Watson can use its data to provide suggestions to a multitude of oncology professionals who may be looking for a second opinion or confirmation on diagnosis/treatment. With over 1 million people having access to this technology through Teladoc, we are likely to see some incredible outcomes over the next decade or so as Watson continues to learn and study Oncology and other medical areas. It is estimated that the average doctor would need to read 29 hours a day to remain up to date with medical discoveries and literature, showcasing the true need for a technology like Watson in the medical field. The combination of man and machine exhibits the actual power of a combined front of expertise and technological cognition, creating a platform that only opens infinite opportunities for the healthcare industry and for artificial intelligence moving forward.



2 Responses to Tapping Into IBM’s Watson to Assist in Tele-Medical Services

  • Hi Arlo, I like your analysis of IBM’s Watson and it’s applications to healthcare. While Watson is an incredibly powerful AI, it’s applications in the healthcare industry have been mired by some glaring issues in it’s machine learning capabilities. When a healthcare provider sets up a Watson instance in a department, let’s say oncology, Watson is trained on data relevant to that field of study and then can draw insights. However, these insights are siloed to the specific field of study. This means that Watson cannot draw even basic insights in other areas such as heart disease. Given that medicine is a very interconnected industry, this is a glaring limitation for the technology in its application and value.


  • Arlo,

    The statistic that you mentioned is both interesting and somewhat surprising! I think that IBM’s Watson has the potential for success in bringing AI to the healthcare industry, however the limitations that Noah mentioned above should definitely be considered. As you mentioned, it takes hours and hours for doctors to stay up to date, I think that the complexities that would be involved with building Watson up to have insights in all areas of medicine to overcome these limitations would outweigh that statistic (for now) until more companies invest in the technology.

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