Patients have an incredible amount of experience with treatments and feedback on their usefulness and side effects, and they share these with each other on blogs. Watson will be able to cull that in the future. The web is filled with data from all these “informal experiments” that will never be the subject for randomized controlled trials, but are useful data nonetheless….
As an example, I took Lipitor and developed insomnia, which I never had before. It took me a few days to figure out what was causing it, but when I did I went to the medical text books, and there was nothing there on insomnia as a side effect. I went to PubMed, and I’m a pretty good searcher, and there was nothing there. When I went to the blogs, though, it was full of people saying, “Don’t take Lipitor, it will keep you up at night.”