The medical industry is one of many industries welcoming the assistance of AI, and now, IBM’s artificial intelligence platform ‘Watson’ will work with doctors in Germany in an attempt to solve complex medical cases where humans are yet to succeed.

BBC reports that at the moment, Watson have been applied in half a dozen cases, however it is not yet confirmed how many that have been correctly diagnosed.

From the end of the year, the cooperation between IBM and the private hospital group Rhon-Klinkum AG will be piloted, and with a waiting list of 6 000 patients since its opening in 2013, the University Hospital of Giessen and Marburg will hopefully benefit from the assistance of artificial intelligence.

Prof. Dr Jurgen Schafer told the BBC that he considers that number a ‘nightmare’, and that there is an urgent need for new ideas and technology. Schafer explains that the patients often have long medical histories, and some have been seen by as many as 40 physicians who have all failed to diagnose them.

“It is not uncommon for our patients to have thousands of medical documents, leaving us overwhelmed not only by the large number of patients, but also by the huge amount of data we have to review,” he said.

“Our work is often like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack – even the smallest piece of information could lead to an accurate diagnosis”, Schafer told the BBC

‘Watson’ will operate by reading the patients medical files as well as large amounts of medical literature, in order to offer a series of ranked diagnoses.

Despite controversy around the idea of technology firms gaining access to patient data, Dr Schafer is very confident that the system will work. The issue of patient consent have been sorted through the patients giving “informed consents”, reassuring the patients that their medical records are completely “anonymised” when used by ‘Watson’.

No analysis will ever leave the hospital or its systems, Dr Schafer reassures the sceptics, mentioning how he believes it is essential that systems such as IBM’s ‘Watson’ is not just confined to private hospitals.

“Our medical systems need hi-tech… I would hope that it makes it cheaper in the long run,” Dr Schafer told the BBC.

“As happy as I am that our clinic owner is going to invest a lot of money in these technologies, it also needs to be done by public health authorities. This is an amazingly important and powerful tool and government would be wise to get into this field.”

This article was re-purposed from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-37653588o

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