Tag Archives: healthcare-sciences

Healthcare-Sciences Cohesive Research Findings

After researching the various technologies disrupting the healthcare and science industry, a video has been made to compile all of the findings of the healthcare-sciences team. The technologies discussed in the final presentation video are IBM Watson, 3D printing, tissue engineering, and genetic modification. Each new piece of technology offers a different way in how people’s lives will be impacted, however all bring about changes to the social system society has set in place. Changes include how long people are now able to live for, an increased ability to detect diseases, reduce risk during organ transplants, and assist those struggling with disease. The video is posted above but please refer here to discover the team’s research findings.

How Does the Law Combat Genetic Modification?

How does the law adjust for genetic modification. If we look at how it combats it now we might be terrified for how the future might look. Monsanto is the world’s largest GMO seed company and uses its wealth to harass and bully farmers into using their product indefintely. However, farmers aren’t the only ones tricked into succeeding into Monsanto’s plans. Congress has just passed a bill alleviating Monsanto of any liability if people get sick from their modified seeds.
What does this mean for human gene editing? Right now the big issue is patent infringement. The CRISPR/Cas9 is the only type of tool like it out there. But, as history has shown, a successful invention is a copied invention. But if a couple have a child who has received modified genes from one parent, does one company own those genes? The video above shows my thoughts and feelings on the subject. Up next on the blog is how does this tool affect how our society will interact, react, and live in the future…


What type of liability is IBM Watson?

Our lives are run by algorithms. Algorithms that are combined together can make a very powerful machine, even a machine that can think for itself. IBM has invented a product known as Watson, a supercomputer that understands both unstructured data and sophisticated data which is used to formulate solutions unique to the individual that is using it. Although Watson has a variety of uses within different sectors such as education and law, for our purposes we will be discussing Watson in a medical sense. Currently Watson is being used by fourteen various hospitals and clinics throughout the country, pairing deathly ill patients with experimental treatment clinics. The fourteen hospitals are hyperlinked here. Read the hyperlinked article if interested in learning more about how each medical center utilizes the cloud based computing system IBM Watson has become a master in.

In the last video we discussed three very different pieces of disruptive technologies within the healthcare-sciences industry. We discussed IBM Watson, Metabolomx, and Wize Mirror. The video above discusses IBM Watson rather than the other two, due to Watson being a sophisticated API (application programming interface) giving Watson the ability to learn new things and develop a different strategies in helping to treat severely ill people.

Watson operates on a give and take system meaning people input their information into it and Watson stores information from news articles, tweets, medical journals, experimental treatments, patient logs, etc. to provide the best possible solution based on an individual need. The video discusses 4 different types of liability: strict liability, negligence, vicarious liability, and joint and several liabilities. The video poses the question on who should be held responsible when a piece of technology makes an error? Is it the programmer who coded the software to make the device perform a specific action that should be held responsible? When technology malfunctions, is the operator or owner held responsible if the technology causes harm to society?

NOTE: The video above shows a clip from IBM’s original work on YouTube called “How It Works, IBM Watson Health.” The link to the IBM’s video is here. The video above only covers about a minute of IBM’s original video, therefore I highly encourage everyone to watch IBM’s 5 minute video.

According to the legal dictionary, strict liability is “the legal responsibility for damages even if the person found strictly liable was not at fault or negligent.” In other words, even if a situation arises where it is not your fault, your employer can be held strictly responsible for the liabilities that arise from the situation. Previously in the law there have been employers who are strictly liable for what their employees do. In that regard is Watson considered an employee of IBM? Or is it considered a piece of technology that is developed by IBM employees and then distributed to the public? Who is responsible when Watson makes a mistake?

With defectively manufactured products the issue of negligence arises. Cornell University Law School cites negligence as “the failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstance.” In other words, there is a missing action that someone failed to complete which caused harm to another party. In Watson’s case, what if the system failed to provide a proper recommendation to a doctor treating a patient with a heart condition and that person was given the wrong medication. The wrong medication caused harm to the patient resulting in a lawsuit. Who is responsible? One could argue that the doctor and patient who logged the information into Watson, failed to include an important piece of information and therefore should be held responsible for what happened to the patient. However, one could argue differently by saying that since Watson was wrong in the recommendation and guaranteed the doctor a high success rate, Watson should be held responsible for damages caused to the patient.

Relating to negligence is vicarious liability in which one party is held accountable for the actions of another. Let’s take the same example from above. A patient has a heart condition and Watson provides the wrong recommendation to the doctor due to improperly logging in a patient’s medical history. In vicarious liability the doctor, the hospital or center the doctor practices medicine in, and IBM Watson can all be held responsible. Providing that Watson is considered an employee of IBM, there are three parties that may have caused harm in this case: IBM Watson (employee 1), IBM programmers (employee 2), and the doctor who utilized Watson to treat his/her patient. Who in this sense would be responsible? IBM Watson can be that one party that can be held accountable for the actions made by the doctor, after faulty recommendations were provided.

Separate from vicarious liability are joint and several liabilities. This type of liability is where “two or more parties are jointly responsible for an event or act that results in damages to another party.” In the event of our heart patient, would you argue that IBM Watson and the doctor is responsible for harm to the patient?

The issue of liabilities is an important one and the reason I bring it up is to not point fingers at one party or another, but to begin thinking about who is accountable when a mistake happens in the medical field involving a computer. Taken what has been said in the video and what is written above who do you think is responsible when our heart patient is prescribed the wrong medication? Is it the doctor, Watson who assisted the doctor, or IBM itself? You decide based on the 4 different types of liability discussed above.

The link to the Youtube video seen above is shown here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgfPlISKNlU

The link to IBM’s 5 Minute Video on how IBM operates is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPXCF5e1_HI

Genetic Modification Introduction: What is it?

Explore the concept of Genetic Modification. Genetic Modification is the the splitting and recoding of a gene as seen in this link. Our current use is in this process on improving plants, but we are now moving towards using it on animals and humans. We are starting with curing diseases but we will explore in the next few segments what the potential is for the technology and what ethical and social dilemmas are born from it.
Below are the links to the articles:





Innovative Technologies Within the Healthcare-Science Industry

Hello everyone,

There are many pieces of disruptive technologies that are drastically changing the way in which doctors and nurses are conducting their day to day activities. New advancements in medical science are enabling computers to detect diseases, conduct in home screenings, and devise the best treatment options for patients. IBM, Metabolomx, Wize Mirror and a handful of other companies are now developing new innovative ways to improve the healthcare sector. The writing below are some details that I found after my research. Please watch the Youtube video that can be accessed through this hyperlink to gather more information on the innovative technologies.

Watson is a super-computer produced by IBM. A supercomputer takes inputted data, stores and processes it, and then generates a result at a much faster speed than a normal computer. Rather than using serial processing, supercomputers use parallel processing which is faster because it works on many things at once. Serial processing takes data, divides it up into separate pieces, and formulates a result based on what you asked the computer to do. Parallel processing splits problems into pieces and works on many pieces at once which allows for faster processing time. Processors are “the brain of the computer” because it interprets what you want done and relays it back to the computer before sending a response back to you.

Watson understands unstructured data which comprises 85% of the data humans provide to other humans according to IBM. Unstructured data consists of tweets, literature, blogs, articles, Facebook posts, etc. Watson uses natural language, meaning that it not only highlights words similar to how you would type keywords in on a Google search engine, it can read and interpret the words that have been written. It understands context and tries to understand what the user wants. It can search multiple inquiries and responses at once to formulate the best response possible. Watson formulates responses faster than humans ever could and is even finding new solutions to problems. Within the healthcare sector, Watson is now being used to match people for clinical trials which allows patients to take part in experimental theories to move them into practice. Watson takes information taken from patient data and matches the patient with the best clinical trials that currently exist and match the opportunities unique to the individual. Results are listed on the highest to lowest statistical match.

Memorial Sloan Kettering is one of America’s first cancer treatment centers that has paired with IBM Watson. MSK feeds information into Watson and the supercomputer is then able to analyze large quantities of data that would normally be too much for one individual to analyze, and reduces the data down to critical decision points. Watson has access to the most well respected medical reports and cases and is taught by specialists and it learns from the cases that range from patient to patient. Watson is now being further developed to include monitoring patients and gathering more personalized treatments for patients.

Watson is currently being used at:

  • Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago;
  • BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver, British Columbia;
  • City of Hope National Medical Center, Monrovia, California;
  • Cleveland Clinic;
  • Duke Cancer Institute, Durham, North Carolina;
  • Buffett Cancer Center at the University of Nebraska, Omaha;
  • McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis;
  • New York Genome Center;
  • Sanford Health, Sioux Falls, South Dakota;
  • University of Kansas Cancer Center, Kansas City;
  • University of North Carolina Lineberger Cancer Center, Chapel Hill;
  • University of Southern California Center for Applied Molecular Medicine, Los Angeles;
  • University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle; and
  • Yale Cancer Center, New Haven, Connecticut.

Another company called Wize Mirror which was created by researchers across Europe employs breath monitors, 3D scanners, video cameras, and imaging systems to analyze the healthcare of its users. According to The Daily Beast this machine can detect changes in users’ faces, monitor circulation, search for signs of anxiety, and test breath for heart attack inducing chemicals.” It has the potential for revolutionizing early detection, in home diagnostics, and reciprocating the results of tests to doctors. We use mirrors everyday and this mirror has the capability of detecting what may be wrong with you once out of the prototype stages. Researchers released a video on how Wize Mirror operates, just follow the hyperlink to watch.

Metabolomx is a cancer sniffing device through the use of a small desktop PC with a hose attached to it. It can be wheeled from patient to patient and individuals are instructed to breathe through the tube for four minutes. Organic compounds otherwise known as VOC’s are carried in a person’s breath. The machine can detect VOCs that carry tumor signatures and can analyze the type of cancer a person has. After a study of 229 people, lung cancer was detected in the patients more than 80 percent of the time.

Currently Metabolomx is offering a breath exam after a person undergoes a CT scan which can increase life expectancy by approximately 20%, according to the National Cancer Institute. Metabolomx is also being used to detect tuberculosis and colon cancer. The major benefits of the technology include rapid results, fast to administrate, reliable, and is administered at a low cost.

All three of these technologies have a common theme. They each are working towards the goal of administering personalized medicine through the incorporation of machines that can process data and deliver results much faster than humans can. The issue of privacy with each of these technologies and ones similar to Watson, Metabolomx, and Wize Mirror will be discussed in later blog posts and videos. However, an important factor to recognize is how much medicine will be changing through the use of machinery in future.

Link to Youtube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lZphsp5Acc