IBM’s Watson Has Big Plans in Health Care

With many major medical centers investing a lot in IBM and Watson, it seems it will eventually have an impact. How soon is a different question.

Feb 11, 2014 at 6:30PM

IBM (NYSE:IBM) has big plans for its Watson artificial-intelligence computer. Money-making plans, that is, especially in the fields of finance and health care.

Motley Fool analysts Rex Moore and Max Macaluso chatted with Pristine co-founder Kyle Samani at the recent mHealth Summit near Washington, D.C. Samani believes IBM's Watson and similar approaches to "predictive analytics" will eventually make major contributions to the health care field, although they're not currently generating any real-world value.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Max Macaluso: Do you have any thoughts on the IBM Watson project?

Kyle Samani: I do have some thoughts on it. I actually know quite a bit about it; I've done some good research, and I know a lot of people who work on the teams and I've spoken with them. I think the vision is very compelling and very ambitious. I love it.

Today, it's effectively doing nothing, in the real world. The real world value being generated is nothing. There's a lot of major medical centers investing a lot in Watson -- or I should say with IBM -- because they believe in that vision, and I applaud them for doing so.

I'm optimistic that, in time, it will happen. Telling you if that's going to be 3 years or 8 years or 15 years? I have no ability to assess that today. No one does, including anyone on the Watson team. The technical side, I suspect, will solve itself. The harder problem is probably the regulatory side, and I'm not sure what to make of how that will play itself out.

I fully expect Watson -- or Watson-like technologies; let's just call them "predictive analytics" -- will become a major part of the future of health care delivery, but it's still a long ways off. There's a lot that needs to be done first.

Max Macaluso, Ph.D. has no position in any stocks mentioned. Max Macaluso, Ph.D. has no position in any stocks mentioned. Rex Moore has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of International Business Machines. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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