MD Anderson Cancer Center partnered with IBM Watson to create an advisory tool for oncologists. The tool used natural-language processing (NLP) to summarize patients’ electronic health records, then searched databases to provide treatment recommendations. Physicians tried out a prototype in the leukemia department, but MD Anderson canceled the project in 2016—after spending US $62 million on it.
Outside of corporate headquarters, however, IBM has discovered that its powerful technology is no match for the messy reality of today’s health care system. And in trying to apply Watson to cancer treatment, one of medicine’s biggest challenges, IBM encountered a fundamental mismatch between the way machines learn and the way doctors work