Sure, it can beat Ken Jennings at Jeopardy, tell you about your city, and dream up recipes for delectable delicacies, but now, IBM’s Watson is doing something even more important than all previous capabilities combined — it’s finally getting closer to becoming your doctor. Last April, the century-old company launched IBM Watson Health, and now, it’s opened up a new office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to some of the best universities in the U.S., and some of the most impressive biotech and pharmaceutical companies as well. In the last few months, Watson has already expanded its scope to take on some of our most pressing health issues and diseases, including cancer and diabetes, and with this new establishment, it seems that the supercomputer will only be taking on greater responsibilities in the industry.
More exciting still is the announcement that Deborah DiSanzo, the former CEO of Philips Healthcare, will be leading the unit as its general manager. Under her leadership, IBM hopes that Watson Health will be able to grow and further expand its massive cloud computing capabilities, which the company believes holds significant potential for modern health care. While current “health record systems can do great job storing data,” Mike Rhodin, senior vice president of the IBM Watson Group, told Fortune, “Watson can summarize that data and incorporate nurse and doctor’s notes to give a more complete picture.”
And part of creating a complete picture is the establishment of robust partnerships and relationships, which Watson Health is already well on its way of doing. Along with medical facilities like the Boston Children’s Hospital and The Columbia University Medical Center, IBM has also partnered with Apple on projects regarding HealthKit and ResearchKit, and is also in cahoots with Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic.
“We’re very much involved and engaged in trying to leverage Watson and analytics to bring innovation into an important space like health and we’ve been doing it for decades,” Kyu Rhee, the chief health officer for IBM, noted in an interview. “This highlights that commitment and the creation of the Watson health cloud and moves towards innovation in Boston.”
And the ultimate goal, says Steve Gold, CMO for Watson at IBM, is to really build an entire medical community that leverages Watson’s capabilities for the collective good.
“It’s about how do we build a community among the various stakeholders in which all of them stand to gain by coming together and sharing information,” Gold said. And that’s one goal that everyone should be able to get behind.