IBM Watson helps advance cancer program

By Melissa Fassbender

- Last updated on GMT

James Thomas, MD, PhD, oncologist and medical director, Froedtert & MCW Cancer Clinical Trials Office and Translational Research Unit analyzes patient data using a version of Watson for Clinical Trial Matching built specifically for the Froedtert & MCW Cancer Network, which includes four locations in southeastern Wisconsin. (Image: Froedtert & MCW Cancer Network)
James Thomas, MD, PhD, oncologist and medical director, Froedtert & MCW Cancer Clinical Trials Office and Translational Research Unit analyzes patient data using a version of Watson for Clinical Trial Matching built specifically for the Froedtert & MCW Cancer Network, which includes four locations in southeastern Wisconsin. (Image: Froedtert & MCW Cancer Network)

Related tags Clinical trials Health care

IBM Watson cognitive computing helps match patients with clinical trials – a traditionally inefficient process.

Watson, the first commercially available cognitive computing capability, analyses and delivers high volumes of data through the cloud. The system is able to understand complex questions posed in natural language and proposes evidence-based answers and was launched in April 2015.

An IBM spokesperson told us that the company is working with “a number of health facilities to implement Watson for Clinical Trial Matching​.”

Current – publically referenceable – facilities include, Mayo Clinic, Froedtert the Medical College of Wisconsin, and ICON Clinical Research​.

Last week, IBM announced that Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Network will adopt Watson to help advance clinical trials. The facilities are slated to start the matching program this fall and will be among the first cancer programs in the nation to use Watson for Clinical Trial Matching.

The program is designed to quickly match patients with clinical trials and provide doctors information to advise their patients about relevant studies. Specifically, after a clinician submits a patient's health information, Watson analyzes the data against clinical trial databases before providing the clinician with information regarding a patient's trial eligibility.

"Watson will support a higher level of personalized care for our patients by enabling us to securely connect individual health information with a vast array of clinical trials,” ​said James Thomas, MD, PhD, oncologist and medical director, Froedtert & MCW Cancer Clinical Trials Office and Translational Research Unit. “By matching clinical trials to more patients with a high degree of precision, we believe Watson will help us fulfill our mission to advance the health of our community through scientific discovery​."

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