Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Watson" vs. Dr. House

It started out as a typical encounter...reporting the results of the ultrasound to the patient and her husband. On finishing, the patient’s husband states, “You should have been on House!” Before I could respond, the patient said, “Ya, but he is nicer”. I was uncertain how to respond to what might have been a criticism or a complement.

That evening the CBS news reported on the utility of “Watson”, the intelligent computer that successfully defeated prior champions on the game show “Jeopardy”. As a part of that report we heard about the success of “Watson” as a diagnostician in clinical trials. We were reassured not to worry that physicians would not be replaced by intelligent computers.

The obvious conclusion is that we should expect a “House MD” show that will play out the defeat of “House” by “Watson”, the technology he loves. This looks like Greek mythology with larger than life characters and principles in a cosmic struggle. I must admit that I hope we will see “Watson” soon on “House MD”! It would be an interesting story.

The reassurance by physicians on the CBS news seems less reliable to me since although technology has provided wonderful improvements in care, it has been at a high price! Complaints about the impersonal nature of healthcare seem to be played out in the character of Dr. House with little mention of the costs even though it is a primary concern of health care resource allocation. Maybe most importantly, it seems to me that healthcare technology is one of those counterfeit gods that seduce all of us into believing we can control our lives.

1 comment:

  1. Here is an interesting article about "Watson":