Viewpoint: Despite promise, IBM's Watson Health was a disappointment

When IBM first launched Watson Health, many were excited about the potential for the tech giant to use its deep expertise to apply artificial intelligence to healthcare. Now, however, IBM is planning to sell Watson Health for a reported $1 billion, and the promise of its offerings has turned sour, according to two Motley Fool contributors in an article published Feb. 5. 

One contributor, Brian Orelli, said that although there was initial excitement about what the AI systems of Watson Health could do, in practice it didn't deliver large enough improvements to health outcomes. Watson Health was initially touted to try and solve data connectivity challenges in healthcare by collecting healthcare data and training an AI model on it to solve problems in real-time. Instead, Mr. Orelli sees the biggest immediate use for AI in healthcare as being on the molecular level, aiding in drug development and discovery.

Using AI that aids with clinical diagnostics shouldn't be ruled out, said the other contributor, Keith Speights, but it may be some years down the road. Ultimately, Watson Health didn't deliver the patient outcomes that physicians and patients both wanted, despite fast AI technology. 

"I guess Watson Health has had some successes, but it's just not been nearly what everyone had hoped it would be," Mr. Speights said.

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