Wilmingtonbiz logo

Watson’s Health Care Potential On Display

By Andrew Gray, posted May 9, 2014
Watson, the IBM computer system first made famous by its success on the game show Jeopardy, recently appeared in Wilmington to demonstrate its ability to help doctors better process health care information.  

On Jeopardy, the software used artificial intelligence to beat Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings, but now the computer power is being used to help doctors better understand oncology research and clinical trial management. 
The May 1 event was hosted by N.C. Coast Clinical Research Initiative and held at the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It featured Mike Orr, manager of the IBM Watson University, and Eric Woods, tech
lead for Watson Solutions and master inventor for IBM.   

“It is software. And the technology is the ability to create an expert of some kind,” Orr said in an interview before to the event.

The software analyzes all of the available documentation and then
is trained with sets of questions, Orr said.

“You train Watson, much like you have to train a human. We start using question-and-answer pairs. We create a ground truth,” Orr said.

Once Watson is trained, it is then able to provide the user with an answer and a probability that the answer is correct. 
For oncology research, the result is which clinical trial would be best for the patient symptoms. 

“It can go through thousands of clinical trial descriptions and find one that is appropriate,” Orr said.

A patient’s condition can be inputted, with Watson returning the treatment based on all previous treatments. Orr stressed that the goal was not to replace the doctors, only to help them process a volume of reports.

“The key is that Watson is an adviser,” Orr said. “Watson can absorb and maintain all the reports.”

He said there were an unlimited number of applications from medical and financial data to customer service applications. Each version of the Watson software is trained for a specific use based on the customer’s data that is imported.  

Outdoor product company The North Face, for example, is using the technology to help customers pick the correct equipment for a trip. 
Watson did not have to travel to Wilmington for the event as the system is available via the Internet as part of IBM’s cloud services.  

Watson is not a supercomputer in a traditional sense of being one giant computer but rather is a collection of servers running specialize software, Orr said.

He also said that IBM is looking for more uses, and company officials are encouraging people to submit their ideas to potentially gain access to the technology.  

For more information, go to www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/ibmwatson.

Join The Discussion

Similar Stories

Ico insights


Burrus rob headshot 300x300

How Executive MBA Programs Differ From the Norm

Robert T. Burrus, Jr. - Cameron School of Business - University of North Carolina Wilmington

Make Lighting Match The Mood

Joe Marston - Wilmington Winlectric
Adamshay 300x300

The Right Questions To Ask Any Advisor

Adam Shay - Adam Shay CPA, PLLC

Book On Business

2016 bob cover

The 2016 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!
Print Only
$24.95 - Qty
Print + Excel File
$79.95 - Qty

In The Current Issue

WDI Event Highlights Downtown Projects

Here are some of the owners and business professionals involved in six high-profile projects in downtown Wilmington, with a look at how their efforts are transforming the landscape.

FaithHealth Aims To Connect Volunteers

FaithHealthNET, an app from Wilmington resident Robert Rosenberg, is designed to match tasks with volunteers. Last month, the company partic...

In The Loop: Upcoming Area Business Events

Upcoming business and networking events through Nov. 30....

Ico topnews Editor's Picks

Live Oak Earnings Beat Wall Street Expectations

Joe Baglio - About 8 hours ago

New Microbrewery, Tap Room Proposed On Randall Parkway

Cece Nunn - About 8 hours ago

Downtown Leaders Support Parks Bond

Vince Winkel - About 8 hours ago

Bill Clinton Stumps For Hillary Clinton In Wilmington

Vicky Janowski - Oct 26, 2016 Trending News


BOSS is a team of business experts who tap into the abundance of resources in the Wilmington, N.C., area to help clients start and grow successful businesses.

Ico trending Trending News

Ico newsinimages News in Pictures

Have a tip, pitch or guest column?  Send us a tip.

Gallery Galleries

Video Videos

Power Breakfast - Election 2016 North Carolina's Choice - 2016
WilmingtonBiz Expo - Key Note Lunch with Keynote Lunch with Chip Mahan - 2016

Register to Continue Seeing Wilmington's Best Business Coverage!

There are three ways to register for free.

Sign in with LinkedIn, Facebook or create an account:

Already registered? Login here.

Your free registration includes:

  • Access to 10 articles per month on WilmingtonBiz.com
  • Email updates to stay informed on local business news
  • A mobile optimized website
  • Advanced notification of Business Journal events
  • Management of your digital and print subscriptions
Laptop iphone ipad