First US hospital recruits IBM Watson for Oncology

The Jupiter Medical Center in Florida has become the first US hospital to adopt IBM’s Watson for Oncology service.  

The AI platform will aid in cancer treatment decisions by providing doctors with data insights gathered from clinical data in over 300 medical journals, 200 textbooks and around 15 million pages of scientific literature.

Having gathered data insights, Watson then ranks potential treatments – along with links to clinical guidelines and peer-review sources – to help doctors decide which therapies are most suited to their patients.

“We were impressed by Watson’s analytical ability to help provide relevant treatment options for patients to allow physicians to personalise patient care in an unparalleled way,” said Abraham Schwarzberg, chief of Oncology at Jupiter Medical Center. “Harnessing the power of Watson will help our oncology multidisciplinary team identify individual treatments.”

Watson for Oncology was born from a collaboration with Memorial Sloan Kettering as a means of improving current cancer care protocols. The collaboration continues to this day and the AI is now available to assist clinicians in developing treatment plans for breast, lung, colorectal, cervical, ovarian and gastric cancers.

The plan is to train Watson to cover an additional nine types of cancer by the end of this year, creating coverage for around 80% of the worldwide incidence of cancer.

Being deployed in a US hospital for the first time is a big step for Watson for Oncology which, until now, had been confined to either research or other countries. If proven to significantly improve cancer care at the Jupiter Medical Center, the technology could be deployed elsewhere in the US.

In the past year, IBM Watson Health has been busy striking deals based around its multiple Watson AI iterations. In August and September respectively, Watson for Oncology was deployed in 21 Chinese hospitals to aid in cancer treatment decisions, and recruited by the Oslo Cancer Cluster to help with cancer research.

In November, it was revealed that Watson for Patient Safety would be used in a project with Celgene aimed at improving pharmacovigilance efforts, and in January of this year, Watson for Genomics was revealed to be helping inform cancer treatment decisions based on genomic data provided by Illumina.

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