By Dr. Bertalan Meskó
Simply having access to the information that patients or medical professionals actually need could be the biggest milestone in the history of medicine.
Even in the modern era, we are struggling to find the right information either about lifestyle or therapeutic decisions. Is this the right diet or exercise regimen for me? Is this the only study I should read about this patient’s case? This could change with cognitive computing.
What even the most acclaimed professors know cannot match cognitive computers. As the amount of information they accumulate grows exponentially, the assistance of computing solutions in medical decisions is beginning to take off.
While a physician can keep a few dozen study results and papers in mind, there are actually millions of papers in existence and from which to draw potential insight. Now consider that IBM’s Watson can process 500 gigabytes of information – the equivalent of a million books – in a second. This remarkable speed has led to Watson being used in oncology centers to begin to help physicians with treatment options and decisions.
Watson is not there to replace the physicians, but to support them when making decisions. It also interacts with physicians and can suggest which additional tests are needed to generate a higher degree of confidence.
Watson’s work with clinicians demonstrates how it could potentially transform healthcare.
But we in the medical profession all have to prepare in order to leverage cognitive computing’s potential. Medical professionals should begin acquiring basic knowledge about how Aritificial Intelligence (AI) works in medical settings in order to understand how such solutions might help them in their every day jobs.
Similar to stethoscopes, such cognitive computers will be true assets in the practice of medicine, but only when caregivers learn how to use and exploit the technology. Imagine that all relevant pieces of information about an illness are immediately accessible when a patient is admitted to a hospital. The physician is able to immediately suggest potential patient routes for the best outcome.
It is time to prepare in order to take full advantage of these advanced, cognitive computing technologies, for faster, reliable diagnoses and treatments.