IBM Watson gets a lot of attention in the medical field for trying to take capabilities that were demonstrated on the Jeopardy TV show and apply that cognitive reasoning to clinical care.
The complexities of disease combined with the mass of medical literature and clinical guidelines make this high dimensional problem an appropriate challenge for an industrial power house.
However, it should not be underestimated what can be achieved using sophisticated Natural Language Processing (NLP) for information retrieval in clinical decision support.
One of my favourite customer stories in recent years concerns our work with medical librarian Jonathan Hartmann from Dahlgren Memorial Library, the health sciences library at Georgetown University.
Jonathan’s role is to support the teams on the hospital’s paediatrics and internal medicine units on rounds at the Georgetown University Medical Center with access to the latest medical insights and publications relating to the current patient.
For example, should a patient with metastatic renal cell carcinoma be given warfin (an anticoagulant) for stroke prevention? Using his iPad at the bedside, Jonathan was able to quickly find journal articles that indicated cancer treatments and potentially cancer spread can indeed increase the risk of stroke.
You can read more about the story here.
From a technical perspective the use of NLP in this scenario is well hidden, as it should be, and simply ensures that the right information is provided to assist in clinical decision making.