Imaging diagnosis may represent best-use scenario for IBM's Watson

Radiology may very well prove to be a sweet spot for IBM's supercomputer Watson.

At heart, Watson is an electronic health record reader. Once that technology is correctly combined with picture archiving and communication system (PACS) technology, diagnosis times for patients could be shortened tremendously, according to Dr. Eliot Siegel, a radiology professor at the University of Maryland's School of Medicine. "There's great potential for Watson to...[also] offer treatment summaries, synthesize charts and perform safety checks," Siegel says, according to a report by Diagnostic Imaging.

Dr. Arun Krishnaraj, an abdominal imaging and clinical intervention fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital, agrees, but feels that such a system needs to come out sooner rather than later. In that vein, he and some of his colleagues are working on a Watson "alternative" called QPID (Querative Patient Inference Dossier) that would break down search results for users in a spreadsheet.

Despite his work, Krishnaraj remains skeptical that such technology will fully replace physician diagnosis.

"If you eliminate the physician, medicine becomes a science with sets of information," Krishnaraj tells Diagnostic Imaging. "People aren't going to enjoy strictly dealing with a computer." 

To learn more:
- read this Diagnostic Imaging piece