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IBM Watson, CVS deal: How the smartest computer on earth could shake up health care for 70m pharmacy customers

Published on: 08.17.2015

International technology  company IBM has partnered with CVS to create an artificial intelligence program called Watson. Watson is meant to monitor patients' health and determine how effective their medications are. Furthermore, it aims to predict who will be afflicted with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease by reviewing each patient's medical health records, prescriptions, environment, and fitness devices. Big data has come to personalized medicine!

If the program can do this effectively, the results could be life-changing and we could be on our way to having a much healthier country. Installing Watson in CVS kiosks throughout the United States would reach nearly a quarter of the American population. And a healthier society is undeniably a good thing.

But will patients use it?

Or more accurately, will they trust it? This could be problematic in two ways: some people might decide that algorithms are more trustworthy than people, or feel more comfortable receiving or sharing personal medical information with a computer. After all, machines aren't judgmental. If people prefer to use the computer instead of visiting a human doctor, some conditions could fall through the cracks. Or, the computer could experience a glitch, and lead to grave errors. Not to mention that a computer may not have the best bedside manner, and could put some people off.

Another issue would be if people don't trust Watson with their health concerns. People are fallible, and doctors are as prone to human error as anyone else. If the technology is available, it seems silly not to use it. Technology is indisputably a boon to advances in healthcare. What if someone is afraid that the computer isn't secure, and their personal information might be stolen? This is a common worry with electronic health records. People worry that their health information could be stolen and used by insurance companies to increase their rates. If people are afraid and opt not to use Watson, a health problem could go unnoticed. 

How do you feel about using technology like Watson as a personal health guide? Contact us and let us know!

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