Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Fortune: IBM’s massive bet on Watson

"More than 230,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year. Almost all of them will receive chemotherapy. As crude as the existing guidelines are, says [Dr. Mark] Kris, they won't be followed more than half the time. If we bumped up adherence by just 10% to 20%, he says, as many as 30,000 people might live longer. Never mind curing cancer -- shouldn't we be able to get the best available combinations of medications to sick people now?"

This description comes from the opening of a Fortune article (IBM's massive bet on Watson)  that delves into how the team behind IBM's Watson is now focusing on applying the same ground-breaking technology that won on the Jeopardy! game show to improving healthcare outcomes.  The question that Dr. Kris, an Oncologist with the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, poses above is what led him to IBM:

"He saw that more information was not the answer. What doctors needed was a better brain -- one that could instantly vacuum up facts, draw deeper connections between data points, and remember everything. They needed Watson. "

The full article, which requires a Fortune subscription (I'll post an update should we get the reprint rights), features an interview with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, and walks through the ways that Watson is being applied not only to healthcare (where researchers have fed Watson 600,000 pieces of medical evidence and 2 million pages of text from journals and clinical trials), but to helping retail companies respond to customer questions more quickly and accurately and to railroads looking to detect faulty tracks before they break.

Dr. Kris was also interviewed earlier this year by CBS News regarding Memorial Sloan-Kettering's partnership with IBM.