Quality matters Q&A: Using machine learning to sort through treatment options

Quality Matters: You’ve said what Google is to search Watson is to discovery. What do you mean by that and why is it important as Watson delves into medicine?

Gold: If you think about your own experience doing searches on the Internet, you get millions of results that you have to sort through to find the ones that are contextually relevant. Watson is a little more thoughtful. It’s looking to understand the context of the question and bring back not an answer, but a set of responses that are aligned to the questions, supported by evidence, and weighted by confidence. The reason that’s so important, especially in health care, is that there is often more than one possibility of what’s wrong when you describe your symptoms to a doctor. The cause could be viral or bacterial and even if you know it’s bacterial, you have to consider a host of other things: which bacteria, what comorbidity issues are present, what medications you’re taking, your family history, and what’s happening in the general populace at any given time. For instance, if you knew there was an early outbreak of pollen that year because everyone was blogging and tweeting about it, you may draw a different conclusion if your throat is scratchy.

Quality Matters: How is Watson able to make sense of such disparate information? Click here to read more.

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