July 09, 2014
Harnessing big data in the war on cancer
BY MD Anderson
How can technological innovation help end cancer?
That's the question IBM and MD Anderson Cancer Center recently posed when they teamed up to share with Congress the promise of the Oncology Expert Advisor powered by IBM Watson (OEA™).
The event gave legislators an idea of what it will take to harness the tremendous potential of big data in the fight against cancer. When fully developed, patients and physicians alike will have new and better options in their battle against the disease.
Congressional members and committee staff, healthcare policy leaders, patient groups, health IT groups, medical associations and more were on hand for keynote addresses from Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Angus King (I-Maine) and Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska). In addition, there was a panel discussion with Lynda Chin, M.D., chair of Genomic Medicine at MD Anderson, Christopher Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Action Network and Sean Hogan, IBM's vice president of Healthcare.
In a July 9 post on IBM's A Smarter Planet Blog, Chin explained the very important and impossible task physicians face in trying to take in the enormous amount of health data generated daily, as well as stay on top of ever-changing medical literature and discoveries:
In health care, technology has created a flood of new data, which holds tremendous promise. It also causes a significant problem: information overload. ...
This is of particular concern in the cancer field where the number of cases remains on the rise. Over 14 million new patients were diagnosed in 2012. That number is expected to increase, meaning that unless we change the way we provide care, we’ll soon face a critical shortage of specialized cancer care providers.
We at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have developed a strategy to take on these challenges by leveraging technology: building virtual expert advisors.
MD Anderson has joined forces with IBM Watson to develop a cognitive clinical decision support system that serves as 21st century version of a reference manual combined with a virtual expert advisor experience for practicing clinicians. ...
Powered by Watson, the 3rd generation cognitive computing system built to analyze unstructured information such as human language, OEA™ can “read” natural language documents such as physician notes and medical literature. Using such capabilities, OEA™ “reads” the medical records of patients to generate case summaries. It then weighs the patient profile against its knowledge base to suggest treatment options relevant to that particular patient, based on literature, guidelines and expert recommendations. Each suggested option by the OEA™ system is linked to supporting evidence, allowing clinicians to evaluate all appropriate treatment choices to arrive at the best one for a patient. In other words, MD Anderson OEA™ is a tool to empower physicians, not a replacement of physicians.
(Read the full post here.)