Maine Center for Cancer Medicine: On the Leading Edge of Cancer Treatment with IBM Watson

Maine Center for Cancer Medicine: On the Leading Edge of Cancer Treatment with IBM Watson

<0> Maine Center for Cancer MedicineSteven L. D'Amato BSP, BCOP, (207) 396-7640orMaine Center for Cancer MedicineTracey F Weisberg M. D., (207) 396-7640orAnthemChris Dugan, (207) 822-8454twitter: </0>

More than 1.6 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year alone, according the American Cancer Society. It is estimated that new clinical research and medical information doubles every five years, and nowhere is this knowledge advancing more quickly than in the complex area of cancer care.

The Maine Center for Cancer Medicine (MCCM) is exploring the capabilities of , a new product developed by Anthem’s parent company, IBM and Memorial Sloan Kettering that utilizes IBM’s Watson technology and Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s clinical expertise. The Watson capability, available through the cloud or on premise, is expected to assist medical professionals and researchers by helping to identify individualized treatment options for patients with cancer, starting with lung cancer. The solution provides users with a detailed record of the data and information used to reach the treatment options. MCCM will tap into IBM Watson's ability to understand the nuances of human language, process questions akin to the way people think, and quickly cull through vast amounts of Big Data for relevant, evidence-based answers.

Interactive Care Insights for Oncology will bring real-time decision support to oncologists by using natural language processing capabilities to pull in all the medical information available about a specific patient, synthesize it, and then compare it with clinical evidence and cancer treatment guidelines, providing a more patient-specific and actionable clinical interpretation. Ultimately, the Watson-powered solution could help physicians to select the most effective treatment option while streamlining health plan approvals.

“We are honored to have been asked to partner with IBM and Anthem’s parent company in bringing the IBM Watson technology to health care in Maine,” said Tracey Weisberg, M.D., MCCM. “The Watson technology, along with Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s clinical expertise will bring more relevant oncologic information to the physician and patient, making treatment planning more comprehensive.”

"IBM's work with MCCM and Anthem's parent is a great example of how technology and evidence based medicine can transform the way in which health care is practiced," said Manoj Saxena, IBM General Manager, Watson Solutions. "These breakthrough capabilities bring forward the first in a series of Watson-based technologies, which exemplifies the value of applying big data and analytics and cognitive computing to tackle the industry’s most pressing challenges."

MCCM is providing Anthem’s parent company and Memorial Sloan-Kettering with valuable feedback that will shape the next version of theproduct. Oncologists at MCCM will focus their attention on Watson's unique capabilities, such ashow Watson presents information to the physician, and if the data is displayed in an actionable way and in logical order. Using these insights, the MCCM oncologists will recommend features that will ultimately improve the usability of the product.

“Our goal is to provide oncologists tools to help select the most effective treatment options for their patients and we’re excited to work with MCCM in this endeavor,” said Dan Corcoran, president and general manager, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine. “Their perspective is essential in ensuring the product utilizing IBM’s Watson technology and Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s clinical expertise will benefit physicians and ultimately, their patients.”

According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 9,000 new cancer cases were diagnosed in Maine 2012.

“We are also dedicated to innovation and directly apply such treatments, technologies and support models to the patient care experience whenever appropriate,” noted Dr. Weisberg. “Our collaboration with Anthem to test this new product developed by Anthem’s parent company, Memorial Sloan Kettering and IBM builds on our belief that innovation can truly transform health care.”

Maine Center for Cancer Medicine is a physician owned community Hematology and Oncology practice that services a large portion of Southern Maine and Eastern New Hampshire. MCCM has been in existence for over 40 years, and focuses on providing a full array of cancer care services to all of our patients. MCCM is affiliated with multiple hospitals in our region and works collaboratively to support hospital cancer programs and services. We have been selected to work with other community practices in a CMS Innovations project regarding optimization of cancer care in the community. The physicians and staff of Maine Center for Cancer Medicine are dedicated to providing the highest quality patient care and experience possible. We are also dedicated to innovation and directly apply such treatments, technologies and support models to the patient care experience whenever appropriate.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name of Anthem Health Plans of Maine, Inc., an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Additional information about Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine is available at . Also, follow us on Twitter at , on Facebook at , or visit our YouTube channel at .

The IBM Watson system gained fame by beating human contestants on the television quiz show Jeopardy! almost two years ago. Since that time, Watson has evolved from a first-of-a-kind status, to a commercial cognitive computing system gaining a 240 percent improvement in system performance, and a reduction in the system’s physical requirements by 75 percent and can now be run on a single Power 750 server. The transformational technology, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, was developed in IBM’s Research Labs. Using advances in natural language processing and analytics, the Watson technology can process information similar to the way people think, representing a significant shift in the ability for organizations to quickly analyze, understand and respond to vast amounts of Big Data. The ability to use Watson to answer complex questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence has enormous potential to improve decision making across a variety of industries from health care, to retail, telecommunications and financial services.For more information on IBM Watson, please visit

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