AI seen as increasingly valuable in fight against cancer

In oncology and other disciplines, the use of machine learning to identify relevant publications could help reduce the time clinicians spend finding important and relevant evidence for a patient.

Jeff Rowe | Jun 04, 2019 12:00 am

Oncologists are increasingly optimistic that AI will improve both patient care and practice operations.

That’s according to a recent report from Oncology Insights, a report series from Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions that surveyed more than 180 U.S. oncologists.

When asked about the future impact of AI on the oncology industry, 53% of participating oncologists said they are “excited.” More than half of oncologists said they anticipate AI will help enhance the quality of care (53%), improve clinical outcomes (57%), and drive operational efficiencies (58%) in three or more years. Nearly half (47%) also expect it to lower the cost of care.

“The potential of AI-based tools to improve care and lower healthcare costs is significant,” says Bruce Feinberg, DO, vice president and chief medical officer for Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions.  “Healthcare systems will play a key role in the early adoption and use of this technology. Our research may help healthcare executives better understand the expectations and concerns oncologists have about these tools, and identify potential barriers that will need to be addressed as new technology is introduced into practice.”

Other key findings demonstrating oncologists' optimism about AI:

• When asked to identify the most valuable benefit that AI could provide to their practice, 37 percent said automating administrative tasks to allow oncologists to focus more on patients and 27 percent said identifying best treatment paths to help them choose the right drug the first time.

• Oncologists also cited the potential to predict patients most at risk of complications and the ability to enhance the accuracy of diagnostics as key opportunities for AI to improve oncology care.

"Nearly every day we read of new tools and technologies being hailed for their potential to improve cancer detection and treatment, but it is too early to know the full impact these innovations will have," said Joe DePinto, President of Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions. "The findings from our new Oncology Insights research suggest that oncologists are optimistic about the potential benefits of AI and are eager to explore the role that data-driven tools may play in improving care and lowering costs.”

In a separate but related development, tech giant IBM recently unveiled the results of a series of studies indicating Watson Health, the company’s division dedicated to data-driven health technologies, has made progress in providing clinical decision support for cancer care.

Among the 22 studies the company showcased at the American Society for Clinical Oncology was a trial where Watson for Oncology was shown to inform clinical decision changes in 13.6 percent of cases at a hospital in India.

In the cases where decisions were changed, Watson was able to provide evidence for newer treatments, more personalized alternatives, or new insights from genotypic and phenotypic data.

"We consider Watson for Oncology to be an important tool to support decision making, and this study suggests that AI could help reduce variability of care," lead investigator SP Somashekhar, chairman of surgical oncology at Manipal Hospitals, said in a statement.