IBM's Watson Health testing image analysis software

IBM ($IBM) is scrambling to add software that can analyze radiological images to its Watson Health unit. The new feature under development will combine the supercomputer's established human language capabilities with new features for "seeing" medical images. Named after the ancient Islamic philosopher Avicenna, the software will interpret images differently based on family history and other contextual information that's provided. "No other company is attempting or envisioning that total integration of text, structured data, and medical imaging," Kenji Suzuki, associate professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology's medical imaging research center, told MIT Technology Review. In order to achieve commercialization, Avicenna will need to become more accurate and flexible. And integration into hospital IT systems and proof of economic benefit (reducing the risk of a lawsuit or lowering healthcare costs, for example) will be needed to drive sales if the software hits the market. IBM acquired billions of medical images via its billion-dollar acquisition of Merge Healthcare. In addition, Avicenna has the potential to access 50 million electronic health records thanks to last year's buyout of Cleveland Clinic spinoff Explorys. Story | More