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IBM’s Watson moves into health care

IBM Corp. is now offering its Watson supercomputer for commercial use by doctors and health insurance companies.

The Armonk-based tech giant, along with health insurer WellPoint Inc. and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York, recently unveiled the first commercially developed cognitive computing breakthroughs made by Watson. The innovative technology is expected to improve the quality and speed of care for patients through individualized, evidence-based medicine.

WellPoint and MSKCC are using two of Watson’s applications — one to help analyze lung cancer treatments, and another to help manage health insurance decisions and claims.

In both applications, doctors or insurance company workers are able to access Watson through a tablet or computer. The supercomputer will then compare a patient’s medical records to information it has gathered and make recommendations in decreasing order of confidence.

The lung cancer program is already being adopted Westmed in Westchester County and the Maine Center for Cancer Medicine.

WellPoint is using the insurance application in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Wisconsin. An IBM spokesperson also reported that the health insurance company will be selling both applications, at prices to be determined, and will compensate IBM under a contract between the two companies.


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