Watson goes to Asia: Hospitals use supercomputer for cancer treatment

In 2011, a supercomputer won $ 1 million in Jeopardy! In 2016, the same supercomputer is facing a challenge unquantified in millions of dollars, but in million cancer patients .

The aim is to use natural language processing to extract Watson literature and records of a patient to provide treatment advice. And this month the Watson computer system is dramatically expanding its reach -. A hospital in Thailand at six in India and a planned 21 more in China

This instance of Watson, known as Watson for Oncology, is an artificial intelligence system that has access to millions of pages textbooks and medical journal articles. Oncologists at Cancer Center Memorial Sloan Kettering trained the system to provide appropriate treatment recommendations, giving descriptions of patients and Watson then tell the correct treatment.

The article continues after the announcement

“[It’s] in the same way to train us to a young doctor showing how our specialists would treat a certain type of cancer in a particular person” said Dr. Mark Kris, a specialist in lung cancer Memorial Sloan Kettering is leading hospital collaboration with IBM.

Watson looks at the records of a patient, such as doctors’ notes and laboratory test results, and gives opinions about what treatment to follow. These views are supported by evidence easily accessible -. Doctors can click on the recommended treatment and see what medical studies support

preliminary studies show Watson is pretty good at recommending treatment. When examining different patients, Watson agreed with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Medical more than 90 percent of the time study , and 50 percent of the time another . These studies were presented at a meeting of oncology 2015, and summaries were published, but studies themselves are not. Authors include scientists associated with IBM.

clinical computing

Doctors at Bumrungrad International Hospital in Thailand have been using the system for about a year, and oncologists in six hospitals in India started Watson used a few weeks ago.

One of the oncologists is Dr. Amit Rauthan, practicing at the Manipal Hospital in the southern Indian city of Bangalore. Watson is fully integrated into the computer system at the hospital, so seek the advice of Watson takes a few seconds and a few clicks.

In an interview with STAT, he said Watson has been used for about two dozen patients. Most of the time, said, Watson says that decisions had already reached were correct, as a breast cancer patient who needed aggressive chemotherapy.

At other times, Watson disagrees, and doctors to change their mind. One of the patients had stage 2 Rauthan colon cancer and chemotherapy need Rauthan thought. Watson recommends skipping radiation and patient observation -., And its opinion won the day

Rauthan stressed that Watson himself did not take the decision. In the case of colon cancer patient, Watson Rauthan provided with evidence about why chemotherapy might not be as beneficial, was able to share with the patient.

However, information about what happened to patients Rauthan – if chemotherapy helped the patient with breast cancer, for example – is not currently used to help Watson to improve going forward, Kris


“that is the ultimate goal – you will learn from that experience.” Kris said. However, that goal is years away, and one of the obstacles to achieve this is to ensure that Watson can access and understand all the information you need about the patient -. complete medical history

IBM announced last week that it was expanding the program to China, with the clinical use due to start next month. Part of the utility Watson is “democratize access to cancer care,” said Dr. Kyu Rhee, head of health for IBM Watson Health, reach areas without easy access to information. Cancer is the leading cause of death in China, killing an estimated 2.8 million people in 2015.

Qunwei Dr. Chen, an oncologist in eastern China whose hospital is adopting the system, she said it expects Watson for Oncology will be useful, especially for doctors in small hospitals, where oncologists have less access to conferences where they can learn about new treatment guidelines and procedures.

IBM declined to say how much money I was paying them for the use of Watson in China.

The importance of data

Because oncology Watson is an automatic learning, their outputs are only as good as its inputs. If you can not read the medical practitioner, who does not know what the doctor tried to do. So the next key step is to ensure that the data feed Watson is really good, it can be a challenge.

“The vast majority of patient data collected and stored in electronic health records is totally unstructured,” said Zach Weinberg, president of Flatiron Health, a medical software company. One of the things your company is doing is trying to organize these data in a more useful way.

Weinberg said IBM is addressing “an interesting piece of the problem” – help doctors make treatment decisions – but that machine learning algorithms are never going to be good enough to know everything what a doctor would know. (Weinberg Company has been in contact with IBM, but has no formal collaboration.)

“Machine learning is a puzzle piece that does not solve everything,” Weinberg said. “Sometimes it can be presented as a cure-all solution to all our problems. That’s not exactly true.”


IBM agree that doctors do not go anywhere. Watson said, serves as “a trusted advisor.”

There is no research yet published about the health impacts counseling patients and oncologists Watson in India say it is too early to know how it is influencing even in its decision-making process.

that has not stopped promoting hospitals Watson. Manipal hospital has even had the system a step further, allowing patients to seek a remote query Watson. The person may top your medical records, pay 9,500 rupees ($ 140) and then receive a PDF report analysis Watson appropriate, verified by Manipal doctors, along with a message consultation a doctor Manipal. The report does not come directly from Watson, an IBM spokesman said.

Rauthan said Watson’s views are free for patients entering the hospital.

This story has been updated to correct the program’s launch expected in China.

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