IBM Watson teams up with American Cancer Society to pit cognitive computing against cancer

Supercomputer will filter websites, data sources to glean insights that inform ACS resources and help doctors to deliver personalized treatments.
By Bernie Monegain
01:51 PM
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IBM and the American Cancer Society are putting IBM Watson’s cognitive computing skills to work to advise people with cancer, as well as to counsel caregivers and survivors, officials said on Tuesday.

Watson will filter countless health websites to draw insights from relevant, accurate and trustworthy information to enhance ACS resources and guidance targeted for each individual.

In what the organizations are calling an advisory role, the supercomputer will use cancer.org’s 14,000 pages of information on more than 70 cancer topics. Watson will also take part in the ACS National Cancer Information Center’s de-identified and aggregated data about self-management, support groups, health and wellness activities, and cancer education.

Eventually, ACS and IBM plan to integrate the advisor with IBM’s existing Watson for Oncology offering for doctors, a clinical decision support tool.

Sixteen cancer institutes are working with Watson today to help doctors translate DNA insights into personalized treatment options for patients. Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine are using Watson to develop solutions for automated hypothesis generation. At Mayo Clinic, Watson is helping doctors match patients to relevant clinical trials.

Once developed, the advisor will anticipate the needs of people with different types of cancers, at different stages of disease and at various points in treatment. It will become increasingly personalized as individuals engage with it, getting “smarter” each time, say IBM executives.

ACS and IBM also envision incorporating Watson’s voice recognition and natural language processing technology to enable users to ask questions and receive audible responses.

More than 1.6 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year, according to ACS.

Memorial Sloan Kettering and MD Anderson are also conducting pilot programs to harness Watson’s supercomputing for evidence based treatment options and individualized care for patients with cancer. 

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
Email the writer: bernie.monegain@himssmedia.com


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