(WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.) -- Watson, the IBM supercomputer that crushed the human competition on Jeopardy! has been hired by one of the country’s largest health insurers.
WellPoint Inc., which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in 14 states, will use Watson’s vast health care database and quick calculating power to guide treatment decisions for its 34.2 million members.
In its new job, Watson will compare patients’ electronic records to a library of textbooks and medical journals, and WellPoint’s history of treatments to generate a list of options and the rationale behind them.
“Imagine having the ability to take in all the information around a patient’s medical care — symptoms, findings, patient interviews and diagnostic studies. Then, imagine using Watson analytic capabilities to consider all of the prior cases, the state-of-the-art clinical knowledge in the medical literature and clinical best practices to help a physician advance a diagnosis and guide a course of treatment,” WellPoint’s chief medical officer Dr. Sam Nussbaum said in a statement. “We believe this will be an invaluable resource for our partnering physicians and will dramatically enhance the quality and effectiveness of medical care they deliver to our members.”
In 2010, WellPoint was accused of overcharging customers and even dropping coverage to avoid paying claims. But the company said Watson would help improve patient care.
Watson will clock in officially early next year.
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