Oncologists in China will soon have a new “colleague” to help diagnose and treat cancer patients. 21 hospitals there will start using Watson for Oncology, said IBM and Hangzhou CognitiveCare, with more planned for the future.
The IBM platform analyzes cancer patients’ medical records, determines their treatment options and presents evidence from various sources, such as textbooks and medical journals. It uses machine learning and other technologies with training from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. (Disclosure: MSKCC is a client of Responsive Translation.)
Why Employ a Machine?
From recent clinical trials to the latest publications, the amount of new medical information available every day is staggering. It’s more and more difficult for humans to keep up with it all and bring that expertise to their patients.
The idea is to allow the machine to take care of the cancer research and data analysis, and allow human oncologists to focus on the more human side of patient care. Do you agree? If you were a patient, would you like Watson to help diagnose and treat you? Why or why not, readers?
IBM in Translation
Getting back to the news: In this deal, Hangzhou CognitiveCare is the partner on the ground. They will aid the doctors in China by localizing Watson for Oncology’s results and analysis, and translating treatment guidelines and drug information.
Medicine wasn’t Watson’s first calling. IBM’s Watson was originally created as a question answering system to compete on the quiz show Jeopardy! The project began in 2004 but it didn’t become the Jeopardy! champion until 2011, beating out Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.
These days, however, IBM is putting the Watson system to more serious (and more commercial) use. They’re partnering with organizations to try to answer questions and solve problems related to health care, business and education.
Since they invested $1 billion to create the IBM Watson Group and they’re hoping to earn $10 billion a year with it within a decade, I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about it in the years to come.