The phrase "jack of all trades" is certainly coming to apply to Watson, IBM's supercomputer, which already lists among its impressive accomplishments beating Tom Jennings at Jeopardy, developing new culinary masterpieces, and analyzing the tone of emails. And now Watson can add one more line to its staggering resume.
Thanks to a new partnership with CVS, IBM's Watson can predict who is at risk for diabetes. IBM plans to "develop custom care management services for CVS customers with chronic illnesses," which along with diabetes also includes obesity and hypertension. By helping to create a "more connected community," the national chain of pharmacies hopes that its collaboration with the world's smartest machine may yield a healthful relationship, one that could potentially save lives.
According to IBM's Thursday press release, the use of " predictive analytics and Watson cognitive computing" will give CVS pharmacists the ability "to transform care management services for patients with chronic disease." The release continues, "The partnership will enable health care practitioners, including those across the CVS Health enterprise, to use Watson to advance care management beyond programs and services typically available today."
While it remains to be seen exactly how this partnership will play out, Troyen A. Brennan, chief medical officer for CVS Health, told the Washington Post that "realistic interventions" may be possible within the next couple years. "When you go into a cognitive computing approach like this, you're not sure what you're going to turn up," Brennan noted. "We're at the point of scientific discovery, not productization."
IBM is also hopeful about the new horizons this collaboration could open for the company, which has been expanding the functionality of Watson ever since it was first developed around a decade ago. Mike Rhodin, senior vice president, IBM Watson, said in a statement, "The capabilities of the IBM Watson Health Cloud, when coupled with CVS Health's insights into medication utilization and patient behavior, could prove transformative for the industry. Improving care for people with chronic conditions supports IBM's commitment to make big plays that advance the health and well-being of the global community."
So who knows -- one day, Watson may be your doctor. And rest assured that it'll also serve a number of other functions for you as well.