National Academy of Medicine

Bringing Knowledge Home

By Paul Grundy
June 01, 2012 | Commentary

In the next 10 years, data and the ability to analyze them will do for doctors’ minds what X-ray and medical imaging have done for their vision. How? By turning data into actionable information. Take, for instance, IBM’s intelligent supercomputer, Watson. Watson can analyze the meaning and con-text of human language and quickly process vast amounts of information. With this information, it can suggest options targeted to a patient’s specific circumstances. This technology can help physicians and nurses identify the most effective courses of treatment for their patients, and it is an almost immediate process. In less than 3 seconds, Watson can sift through the equivalent of about 200 million pages, evaluate the information, and provide precise responses. With medical information doubling every 5 years, advanced health analytic systems technologies like this can help improve patient care through the delivery of up-to-date, evidence-based health care.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of the authors’ organizations, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies). The paper is intended to help inform and stimulate discussion. It is not a report of the NAM or the National Academies. Copyright by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.