IBM’s AI ‘Watson’ Making Its Way Into Hospitals

Rendering android robot with industrial network
IBM is close to perfecting the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the medical field. The latest device helps hospital patients.

IBM or “Big Blue,” as it is often referred to, has been in the forefront of developing cutting-edge technology, and has many successes to its credit.

With the advent of Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence, IBM was not going to be found wanting in its efforts at coming up with path-breaking technologies.

The last time you might have heard about IBM’s accomplishment in the AI space would have been the game show Jeopardy on television a good six years ago.

In that contest, Watson, the computer built by IBM, beat humans by delivering answers in seconds.

Today, Watson is a vehicle IBM is using to work on its AI project that may revolutionize the medical field.

According to one report, IBM has already invested around $4 billion on acquiring technology firms engaged in AI related activities, and has set up a 7,000-strong team to work on the project.

Expansion of AI Work Already Being Carried Out

The application of Artificial Intelligence in the field of medicine is not new. Watson has already been deployed in a particular case of recommending treatment options for about 1,000 cancer patients in a specialty hospital in North Carolina. The results of this diagnosis left even medical professionals stunned.

The Watson Health AI software out-performed doctors in about 30 percent of cases. The program went on to offer suggestions on treatments which the doctors had not considered prior to this exercise.

Similarly, there are other instances being alluded to, where the same AI was deployed in the process of screening the patients in a cancer center, and it resulted in the facility reducing the time it usually takes to screen patients by half—from 50 odd minutes to just 24.

These events are well-recorded as indicating the benefits of applying healthcare to AI.

AI Helps Patients and the Public Directly

While the above cases can be clearly seen as using AI for helping those who run medical facilities, Big Blue is now on to more advanced application of AI through the Watson vehicle.

Online IT pharma medical treatment technology.
It benefits both patients and the public at large, in any hospital or healthcare facility.

It benefits both patients and the public at large, in any hospital or healthcare facility. Even here, work has already been carried out.

A home speaker-like device has been developed that can be placed next to the patient and used to comply with commands from him/her, such as delivering answers or getting a few errands done.

The concept and design is similar to that of Amazon Echo or the SIRI speaker. However, the ecosystem this Watson-based AI speaker will work within can be quite different.

To place on record, the other speakers mentioned here have already been tested, but have yet to be successful. This is primarily due to the security protocol associated with hospitals.

Makings Hospitals More Comfortable

As indicated, the project under advanced development relates to the provision of an AI based speaker. Developed in collaboration with Harman, the device is a JBL clock radio with a speaker. To use it, the patient simply speaks the word “Watson” and the device will respond immediately to any command.

The research behind this concept offers insights for those managing the healthcare sector. Patients wish to gather more information about a specialist doctor giving them treatment. In other cases, patients call the nurse on duty for simple tasks like closing blinds or adjusting the air-conditioning.

All these can be easily handled by this AI device. And going forward, this can actually save nurses up to 10 percent of the time they spend on these trivial matters, thus releasing them to tend to matters that are more medical in nature.

The instances referred to above are quite practical, and many patients and their relatives seem to agree that such a facility can be of immense help in making the patients feel more at ease.

Once it gets accepted in leading institutions, the concept can catch on and IBM can expand the capabilities of the device to offer even more services. Already, the speaker can be programmed to be carried home and can keep reminding the patient about aftercare, taking medications on time, and so on.

The possibilities for using AI in the health industry appear endless.

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