Cedars-Sinai to guide development of Watson's clinical technology
Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute will provide clinical expertise to help shape WellPoint's new healthcare applications based around IBM's Watson technology.
WellPoint announced plans in September to develop the first commercial applications that put Watson to use helping improve patient care and support physicians in their efforts to make the most informed, personalized treatment decisions possible. It is estimated that new clinical research and medical information doubles every five years, and nowhere is this knowledge advancing more quickly than in the complex area of cancer care.
Oncology is one of the first fields being targeted by WellPoint, officials say, given IBM Watson's ability to respond to inquiries posed in natural language and to learn from the responses it generates. The WellPoint healthcare solutions will draw from vast libraries of information including medical evidence-based scientific and health data, and clinical insights from institutions like Cedars-Sinai. The goal is to assist physicians in evaluating evidence-based treatment options that can be delivered for the physician in a matter of seconds for assessment.
WellPoint and Cedars-Sinai hope this enhancement to the decision-making process can empower physician-patient discussions about the best and most effective courses of treatment and improve the overall quality of patient care.
"As we design the WellPoint systems that leverage IBM Watson's capabilities, it is essential that we incorporate the highly-specialized knowledge and real-life practice experiences of the nation's premier clinical experts," said Harlan Levine, MD, executive vice president of WellPoint's Comprehensive Health Solutions.
Cedars-Sinai's oncology experts will help develop recommendations on appropriate clinical content for the WellPoint healthcare applications. They will also assist in the evaluation and testing of the specific tools that WellPoint plans to develop for the oncology field utilizing IBM's Watson technology. The Cedars-Sinai cancer experts will enter hypothetical patient scenarios, evaluate the proposed treatment options generated by IBM Watson, and provide guidance on how to improve the content and utility of the treatment options provided to the physicians.
Leading these efforts is M. William Audeh, MD, medical director of Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. He said he will work closely with WellPoint's clinical experts to provide advice on how the solutions may be best utilized in clinical practice to support increased understanding of the evolving body of knowledge in cancer, including emerging therapies not widely known by community physicians. As the solutions are developed, Audeh will also provide guidance on how the make the WellPoint offering useful and practical for physicians and patients.
"There are many aspects to providing the highest quality care to cancer patients, and innovative technology such as this can be a very important aid to physicians," said Audeh. "Cedars-Sinai is very pleased to be working with WellPoint on this very promising project."
WellPoint anticipates deploying its first offering next year, working with select physician groups in clinical pilots.