Artificial intelligence applied to healthcare is revolutionizing industries and scientific areas. The role of doctors, as well as the technologies related to healthcare, has evolved in a significant way.
In the last centuries, health professionals have always been in a constant search for information, but now the scenario is changing. Instead of looking for it, information is the one coming to them. Technology’s enhances have brought computers to understand human language. The information systems used by Watson, allow more effective research, essential to a correct diagnosis and treatment. 99% of the recommended treatment plans by Watson match de suggestions from the doctors when it comes to oncology. But, the supercomputer also brings up solutions that the professionals do not think of.
We all know that when studying to become future professionals in health, most of the work is based on memorizing lessons. And, when working, a doctor must know all the information concerning every different known disease and be able to connect it with the patient’s history. Watson might be game changing. In fact, all this knowledge is accessible to the supercomputer. It facilitates the doctor’s job and consolidates the veracity of the diagnosis.
One big problem concerning the relationship between artificial intelligence and the medical world is the lack of standards when dealing with the medical vocabulary. This process obstructs the cooperation between the two partners. The medical professionals should express themselves with standardized terms that can be processed by Watson. This way, Watson could rely key words used by doctors to replace terms or expressions that cannot be computed by it. Linguistic relativity is one of the main problems affecting the cognitive abilities of the supercomputer.
Watson and similar technologies are a valuable asset to the medical world and are becoming essential to verify the efficiency of medical treatments. We must be ready to accept and understand how deep this change is.
IBM Watson has started to be applied to health in the last years after years of research and improvements. When applied to health, the supercomputer is used to help professionals understand the patient’s situation and provide an effective treatment.
Cognitive computing has found to be a powerful partner to doctors, mainly because of big data analysis. In fact, doctors are humans, and from that we know that the data “stored” by a human brain is sort of limited. Whereas, when it comes to a supercomputer, we are talking about exponential amounts of data that can be stored and accessed. Most of all, it takes little time for the machine to analyze the data and come with an effective response.
Doctors’ exhaustion is another problem that the artificial intelligence can bring a solution to. As it simplifies the doctors work, Watson allows them to focus on other important matters that might have been left away and could actually be primary. It also allows them to be more confident about their treatment solutions. In fact, the data analyzed by Watson is diversified, meaning that it is more effective than the limited data the doctors have access to. Another asset for the doctors’ conditions is the reduce of costs, meaningful of future investment on medical infrastructures or even personnel salary raise.
Until now, Watson’s work in health has mostly been used in oncology treatments. That is the result of the analysis of data coming from different fields such as: patient’s history (every information in the data base), papers, books or case files. Another advantage of the supercomputer is that the information can be updated without any research. This research could be a loss of time for the doctor. Watson still has some lacks in data analysis, as for example it cannot analyze radiology information yet.
Watson is a valuable asset to doctors. It was developed to simplify their work and assist them when making life changing decisions. Somehow, Watson saves lives by cooperating with health professionals, whom mostly value the supercomputer work and see it has a partner.
When it comes to artificial intelligence, and generally technologies, society usually sees it as a way to replace humans. Artificial intelligence particularly, has come to complement and simplify our cognitive experiences, such as data analysis.
Therefore, when applied to health, the key role of IBM’s Health solutions is to help the analysis of patient’s health history in order to apply a treatment that responds to the patient’s needs. We can see the supercomputer as a new partner to the doctors. In fact, it is not able to replace the empathy that occurs between the doctor and its patient.
This has proven very interesting as children seem to be more forthcoming in their interaction with Watson than with a doctor or nurse, said Dr. Hennessey, Clinical Director of Innovation at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to the website medialfuturis.com.
Doctors know that when it comes to some important tasks in this relationship, Watson will never be able to replace them, at least they expect it. The supercomputer cannot replace communication. Although we know technology evolves at high speed nowadays, artificial intelligence has not shown a positive response to higher level conversation that takes part in the exchange between doctors and patients, such as reassurance which is a critical part in the patient’s acceptance and recovery. Another aspect that Watson cannot take part either, at least not yet, is all the physical tasks or procedures.
The fear of being replaced by a “machine” is common among medical professionals. But one thing is quite sure, Watson will never be able to replace the human communication between the doctors and its patients. Still, it is important to ensure that the doctors respond positively to this new companion, and not feel like they are being replaced. And as IBM reinsures, Watson is not a replacement to the so-called health heroes.