Cancer Centers, Epic to Tap Power of IBM Watson Supercomputer

Fourteen major cancer centers will use the cognitive abilities of the IBM Watson Health supercomputer to quickly analyze patients’ DNA, identify cancer-causing mutations and speed identification of personalized treatment options.

Further, Epic Systems Corp. is working with Watson and Mayo Clinic on a proof-of-concept program to match patients to the most appropriate clinical trials.

Also See: IBM CEO: Watson Health is ‘Our Moonshot’ in Healthcare

Cleveland Clinic and New York Genome Center are expanding work already being done with Watson to speed identification of treatment options. Other cancer centers joining them include Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, BC Cancer Agency, City of Hope, Cleveland Clinic, Duke Cancer Institute, Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha, McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University in St. Louis, Sanford Health, University of Kansas Cancer Center, University of North Carolina Lineberger Cancer Center, University of Southern California Center for Applied Molecular Medicine, University of Washington Medical Center and Yale Cancer Center.

These organizations initially will focus on lymphoma, melanoma, pancreatic, ovarian, brain, lung, breast and colorectal cancers. The goal is to reduce the time for identifying the best treatments from weeks to minutes. IBM expects more centers to join later this year.

“Watson completes the genetic material and medical literature review process in only a few minutes, producing a report and data visualization of the patient’s case, and evidence-based insights on potential drugs that may be relevant to an individual patient’s unique DNA profile identified in the medical literature,” according to a statement from IBM. “The clinician can then evaluate the evidence to determine whether a targeted therapy may be more effective than standard care for the patient.”

In the IBM-Epic collaboration, Epic will extract patient data from client Mayo Clinic’s electronic health record, send it to Watson for comparison with relevant clinical data from literature, studies and trials, and send findings back to Mayo’s EHR. Mayo clinicians will share patient-specific data with Watson in real time. Epic will embed Watson’s cognitive capabilities into its decision support software using the emerging Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard and the vendor’s open Application Programming Interface.

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