IBM, Nuance to apply 'Watson' analytics to healthcare
We've seen the ease with which he bested his human opponents on the Jeopardy! challenge. Next up for Watson the supercomputer? Improving the delivery of healthcare.
IBM and Nuance Communications announced Thursday a research agreement to explore, develop and commercialize the Watson computing system’s advanced analytics capabilities in the healthcare industry.
The research and technology initiative will combine IBM’s Deep Question Answering (QA), Natural Language Processing, and Machine Learning capabilities with Nuance’s speech recognition and Clinical Language Understanding (CLU) solutions for the diagnosis and treatment of patients that provide hospitals, physicians and payers access to critical and timely information.
The two companies expect the first commercial offerings from the collaboration to be available in 18-24 months.
Additionally, Columbia University Medical Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine will contribute their medical expertise and research to the collaborative effort. For example, physicians at Columbia University are helping identify critical issues in the practice of medicine where the Watson technology may be able to contribute, and physicians at the University of Maryland are working to identify the best way that a technology like Watson could interact with medical practitioners to provide the maximum assistance.
Watson’s ability to analyze the meaning and context of human language, quickly processing information to find precise answers can assist decision makers, such as physicians and nurses, unlock important knowledge and facts buried within huge volumes of information, and offer answers they may not have considered to help validate their own ideas or hypotheses.
“Combining our analytics expertise with the experience and technology of Nuance, we can transform the way that healthcare professionals accomplish everyday tasks by enabling them to work smarter and more efficiently” said John E. Kelly III, MD, senior vice president and director of IBM Research. “This initiative demonstrates how we plan to apply Watson’s capabilities into new areas, such as healthcare with Nuance.”
For example, a doctor considering a patient’s diagnosis could use Watson’s analytics technology, in conjunction with Nuance’s voice and clinical language understanding solutions, to rapidly consider all the related texts, reference materials, prior cases, and latest knowledge in journals and medical literature to gain evidence from many more potential sources than previously possible, thereby helping the medical professional to confidently determine the most likely diagnosis and treatment options.