Skip to main content

Data & Intelligence

Will technology make your doctor disappear?

Maybe soon, your doctor will be a supercomputer, not a person.

The possibility was center stage in San Diego at the inaugural Fortune Brainstorm HEALTH conference, where executives with IBM Watson Health and Athenahealth, a provider of cloud-based healthcare services, debated how far cognitive computing will reach into doctors’ offices.

Brainstorm HEALTH, sponsored by Fortune business magazine, brought together leaders at the forefront of healthcare to address the conference theme “Seizing the Disruptive Opportunity” to stir up fresh thinking about an industry that accounts for nearly 20 percent of the U.S. economy. Among the highlights, Deborah DiSanzo, general manager for IBM Watson Health, and Jonathan Bush, CEO of Athenahealth, led a conference session that tackled the question “Can a supercomputer with artificial intelligence take better care of you than your doctor can?”

DiSanzo believes artificial intelligence will augment the human element in healthcare, not replace it. But Bush came down firmly on the other side of that position.

“It’s OK – we’re friends here – of course, you’re going to replace me!” he insisted.

Data Intelligence - The Future of Big Data
The Future of Big Data

With some guidance, you can craft a data platform that is right for your organization’s needs and gets the most return from your data capital.

Get the Guide

Bush cited precision and cost as the catalysts for change. He believes Watson, IBM’s natural language processing and machine-learning engine, can minimize inaccuracy, reduce misinterpretations of health records, and take over medical functions such as interpreting scans and test results.

“Wouldn’t you trust Watson more at the super-low end? Forget brain scans and cancer silhouettes – what about plain film and broken bones? Wouldn’t Watson be a lot more reliable with that?” he said.

DiSanzo agreed that it would – to a point. She dismissed the notion of a “Dr. Watson” making prescriptive choices for consumers.

“If you take, say, a CT image – a CT study is maybe 80 images deep – and really, a radiologist likely doesn’t have to look at 74 or 75 percent of those images; they need to look at the images that there’s something on,” she said. “What Watson can do is say, ‘Don’t look at these 76 images, look at these four images … here’s what you need to look at to make your definitive diagnosis quicker and faster.’”

Perficient has been monitoring this discussion for years – in healthcare as well as other industries. We were one of the first participants in the partner ecosystem for Watson, and we evangelized and educated customers on Watson’s capabilities. Now, customers come to Perficient asking how to apply their own ideas with Watson. We show them how to turn those ideas into reality.

For example, at the recent World of Watson conference, Perficient led a presentation with client TriHealth about how Watson Explorer, a cognitive search and content analysis platform, is helping inform the Cincinnati-based health system’s clinical decision-making. The session addressed TriHealth’s ability to reduce costs by leveraging Watson in uncovering new admission indicators and decreasing readmission rates.

In short, Perficient is not just listening to the discussion about emerging technologies in healthcare; we are helping shape it.

Perficient’s IBM Watson practice is dedicated to learning more daily about emerging technologies and determining the role cognitive computing can play in healthcare. Find out more on Perficient’s IBM partner page and by following our IBM and Healthcare blogs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

David Sheets

More from this Author

Follow Us