Mayo Clinic boosts clinical trials with IBM Watson artificial intelligence

Supercomputer matches more patients to breast cancer clinical trial than had previously participated, the organizations say.
By Bernie Monegain
02:05 PM
Mayo Clinic boosts clinical trials with IBM Watson artificial intelligence

Mayo Clinic and IBM Watson Health have announced the results of a cutting-edge project putting the supercomputer to work for patient matching: Watson brought in more patients than before to participate in recent breast cancer clinical trials.

Only 5 percent of patients with cancers participate in clinical trials nationwide, according to Mayo Clinic officials, who noted that that low enrollment makes for many clinical trials that are slow to finish or not completed. That delays advances in research and results in less access to better therapies.

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What’s more, matching and enrolling patients in appropriate trials has proven to be a time-consuming, manual process.

“Novel solutions are necessary to address this unmet clinical need, advance cancer research and treatments, and, in turn, improve the health outcomes of patients,” Tufia Haddad, MD, a Mayo Clinic oncologist, said in a statement.

Watson for Clinical Trials Matching is programmed to accurately and consistently match patients to clinical trials for which they might be eligible, so that healthcare providers and patients can consider appropriate trials as part of a care plan.

Mayo Clinic implemented the system in July 2016 in its ambulatory practice for patients with breast cancer. In the 11 months after implementation, there was about an 80 percent increase in enrollment to Mayo’s systemic therapy clinical trials for breast cancer. Also, the time to screen an individual patient for clinical trial matches was lower when compared with traditional manual methods.

“This has enabled all patients to be screened for all available clinical trial opportunities,” Haddad noted.

Based on the initial testing phase, Mayo and IBM agreed to continue developing the system to include trials for other types of cancer and aspects of cancer care beyond medical therapies, such as surgery, radiation and supportive care.

Watson is programmed to support clinical trial matching for breast, lung and gastrointestinal cancers, and training on trials for additional cancer types is underway.

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
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