New Watson-based tool sends docs to the cloud for cancer treatment

IBM and New York-based Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have taken the next step in their partnership to improve cancer care using Watson technology.

The entities, along with Indianapolis-based insurer WellPoint, today introduced a new product--Interactive Care Insights for Oncology--that will enable clinicians to provide personalized treatments to patients based on individual medical information and updated treatment guidelines and research.

Providers using the product will have remote access to a Watson-based advisor via the cloud, according to an announcement. The product is the result of an agreement reached last year between IBM and Memorial Sloan-Kettering in which the two partnered to develop a clinical decision support tool for individualized cancer treatments.

"It can take years for the latest developments in oncology to reach all practice settings," Memorial Sloan-Kettering President Craig B. Thompson said in the announcement. "Ultimately, we expect this comprehensive, evidence-based approach will profoundly enhance cancer care by accelerating the dissemination of practice-changing research at an unprecedented level."

Another Watson-based product unveiled today, created in tandem with WellPoint, was a cognitive computing system expected to enhance the review processes between physicians and payers. Testing and treatment times could be shortened, according to the announcement, thanks to quicker preauthorization approval times. The tool already has been deployed to a select number of providers in the Midwest; WellPoint expects more than 1,600 providers will use it by year's end.

Both tools are the first commercially based products based on Watson.

Last fall, IBM announced that Watson technology would be used to help medical students at the Cleveland Clinic to analyze medical problems and develop evidence-based solutions. Additionally, in 2011, IBM announced a joint effort with Nuance, Columbia University Medical Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine to apply Watson to complex patient cases.

WellPoint, in late 2011, enlisted a team of clinicians, computer scientists, statisticians, pharmacologists, IBM engineers and others to "teach" Watson to provide decision support.

To learn more:
- read the announcement