In collaboration with a small group of other companies, Modernizing Medicine, a company developing electronic medical record systems out of Boca Raton, Florida, is working on an app supported by IBM’s Watson. The new program will be an enhanced version of their Electronic Medical Assistant (EMA), already in use in a quarter of dermatology practices in the US. By combining EMA’s existing qualities with cognitive computing and natural language processing, schEMA will be able to support doctors through answering medical questions in a more holistic manner.

The CEO of Modernizing Medicine, Daniel Cane says: “We are one of the first in the world to get access to this cognitive computing capability,” and wants the product to hit the market this year. Considering that after getting access to Watson it took Modernizing Medicine a mere two weeks to build a ready-to-go prototype, this seems quite realistic. The company, which is already 180 employees strong, 4years after its launch and brings home $17.5 million in annual revenue, recently won the eMerge Techweek Launch competition. The prize of $100,000 in cash and services will be donated to several regional institutions that support entrepreneurial endeavours such as Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway and Florida International University.

SchEMA combines different sources of published healthcare information in order to help physicians make more resourceful assessments about possible diagnoses. The advantage this system has over classical diagnosis strategies, is that it is evidence-based, the sources of medical information can be directly cited on the patient’s medical chart. “This is an entirely new era of computing … where the machine is able to do a lot of that reasoning itself, and to understand the context of the question, what the possible answers in the known universe are and to instantaneously choose the best answer. It is almost mind boggling where this can lead.” says Cane.

But this is only one part of IBM’s ambitious program of introducing Watson to a bigger share of the general public. With a very successful appearance on Jeopardy and several other company partnerships, Watson is out there making a name for himself, a project that IBM is financing with an impressive investment of $1 billion. But apart from marketing its abilities the super-computer is also being introduced to the future generation of workers through various partnerships with universities all over the country. Once again, Watson’s cognitive abilities prove their applicability in a new field, setting out to revolutionise healthcare, one specialty at a time.

Read more here.

(image credit: Michael Cote)

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