Columbia doctors turn to IBM's Watson for patient diagnosis, clairvoyance

Who says Watson's only good for laying the smack down on former Jeopardy champions? In what can only be described as the natural progression of things, Herbert Chase -- professor of clinical medicine in Columbia's Department of Biomedical Informatics -- is working with IBM in order to retrofit the supercomputer to "help doctors diagnose and treat patients." According to Chase, this level of robot practice has been impossible for the past score or so, and if the experiment works, Watson could serve to provide physicians "immediate, accurate answers to unusual, head-scratching questions that come up in their daily practice and do so based not only on the latest published research, but also the blogosphere." In other words, Watson could rapidly collect and analyze up-to-date published data from a near limitless amount of online sources, and then use that knowledge to recommend suggestions that a seasoned M.D. may never consider. Furthermore, Chase sees tremendous potential for Watson in the realm of personalized medicine; considering that two patients with the same diagnosis won't necessarily react to treatments the same way, Watson could come up with alternatives on the fly. There's no clear indication of when the testing will wrap up, but see how far you get next time you're in the emergency room by inquiring about Dr. Watson's availability.