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The race to use artificial intelligence in healthcare

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The future is here.

For years we’ve been contemplating the role that computers could have in the medical field, and of course there have been gadgets and software that have made an impact in healthcare. Providing information at a doctor’s fingertips has become easier through the years, but now the breakthroughs are accelerating.

The key development involves artificial intelligence, and the ability of computers to diagnose illnesses and make recommendations or provide options for treatments.

IBM is one of the leaders with its Watson supercomputer, which is now being applied to medical care, particularly cancer treatment.

One of the keys is that the AI supercomputer can absorb incredible amounts of data, like new medical trials and journals. 8,000 new research papers are published every day, and Watson can gobble those up, and then analyze the information, detect patterns, and apply that knowledge to new fact patterns and data points.

Hopefully, we will see this accelerate. In the near future, every doctor visit, even routine ones, can have a quick “Watson review” so that the AI computer can absorb the patient’s symptoms, scans, blood work and history. In most cases this will just confirm the doctor’s recommendation, but in some cases the AI computer might flag an issue. And then of course, in more complex cases like cancer and other diseases, support from the AI computer will be essential.

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