By Frank Konkel // December 15, 2014
IBM’s Watson technology – first made famous in 2011 after besting human competitors on the television game show "Jeopardy" – is now turning its computing power toward improving veterans’ health care.
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today a two-year pilot program with the company worth $6.8 million, signaling the agency's intent to assess innovative and emerging technologies that could benefit the 8.3 million veterans requiring care each year.
IBM’s Watson technology “will ingest hundreds of thousands of Veterans Health Administration documents, medical records and research papers” and distill information and knowledge to clinicians in near real-time, according to IBM.
During the pilot, Watson will base clinical decisions on realistic simulations of patient encounters – not on actual patient encounters – providing a test-bed for how computers might handle patient care decisions.
“Physicians can save valuable time finding the right information needed to care for their patients with this sophisticated and advanced technology,” said Carolyn M. Clancy, VA’s interim undersecretary for health, in a statement. “A tool that can help a clinician quickly collect, combine and present information will allow them to spend more time listening and interacting with the veteran.”
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