This Week Health 5 Years

Watson is for sale, what happened? Could it have been avoided?

Today an object lesson on how not to enter healthcare.


The Wall Street Journal says Big Blue is pondering ways it might off-load the healthcare AI subsidiary, and IBM CEO Arvind Krishna has already signaled a ''maniacal focus" on hybrid cloud development.

The division has seen some major milestones in the decade since Watson first wowed the world with its much-hyped Jeopardy! win in 2011 and the announcement soon after that the technology would be applied to healthcare. Then specific use cases began to emerge. Big Blue had big plans for what it might accomplish.

Since then, the Watson business has grown substantially, through a series of targeted, multi-billion-dollar acquisitions: Merge Healthcare for imaging, Phytel and Explorsys for population health and Truven Health Analytics for value-based care.

But there have also been some high-profile setbacks along the way.


If you are going to enter a space like Deion Sanders, you better have game like Deion Sanders. IBM entered healthcare loud and proud with bold claims to turn their Jeopardy win into cancer moonshots and diagnostic transformation. What went wrong? Data. 

Watson, like most AI is hungry for data. "Feed me Seymore" is the cry of AI tools, much like the alien plant from Little Shop of Horrors. But our data was messy and didn't satisfy Watson the way it was intended.

What are your thoughts?

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