Lee Beecher, MD
Psychiatrist, Advocate for Patient Care
Chapter 7: Data-Bane or Blessing?
[We open this chapter with a discussion between IBM's Watson and Bob Dylan]
“Bob Dylan, to improve my language skills, I’ve read all your
“You’ve read all of my lyrics?” Dylan.
“I can read 800 million pages per second.” Watson.
“That’s fast.” Dylan.
“My analysis shows your major themes are that time passes and love
“That sounds about right.” Dylan.
“I have never known love.” Watson.
“Maybe we should write a song together.” Dylan.
“I can sing.” Watson.
“You can sing?” Dylan.
“Do be bop, be bop a do, do be do be do, do be do…” Watson
Dylan stands and walks away, unconvinced.
Can Big Data become “smart data” and boost the ability of independent physicians to better serve individual patients?
Physicians often fear that analytics based on computer algorithms are replacing the physician’s judgment at a patient’s bedside. Physicians see a future in which Big Data tells them how to practice and what to prescribe with a punishment of banishment from practice for those willing to actually provide care for patients. Perhaps in ways similar to Watson trying to sing, physicians fear the day Watson becomes the Chief of Medicine.
For certain, Watson can read all of Bob Dylan’s “data,” but Watson does not know how to love. Watson can sing, but without passion or a soul, he cannot produce music. Can Watson, over time, with enough data, analyze and integrate compassion, love, and other soul-full traits to produce music?
Can Watson become a physician? ....