Florida hospital leverages data-driven oncology care

Jupiter Medical Center is the first in the US to offer community-based care

IBM has been on a mission to turn its Watson supercomputer into a go-to digital assistant for doctors. From creating cognitive hospital rooms at Jefferson Hospital, to a German hospital using a cognitive assistance system for diagnosing rare diseases, Watson is a powerful medical resource .

Four years ago, Memorial Sloan-Kettering (MSK) and IBM Watson formed a partnership to develop Watson for Oncology, a cognitive computing system that can analyze large volumes of data, including medical literature, patient health records, and clinical trials, to offer personalized, evidence-based treatment recommendations for cancer patients.

According to an IBM press release, Watson for Oncology draws from more than 300 medical journals, over 200 textbooks, and nearly 15 million pages of text to provide insights about different treatment options, and provide oncologists with information regarding drug options and administration instructions. Watson also ranks the evidence-based treatment options, linking to peer-reviewed studies and clinical guidelines. Its machine-learning capability means it continuously learns, gaining insight and knowledge
over time.

Until recently, patients could only take advantage of this technology at prominent American specialty cancer care medical systems like Memorial Sloan-Kettering. Now, IBM Watson for Oncology has struck its first deal with a U.S. regional hospital, bringing the advanced artificial intelligence technology to a community-based medical facility.

Florida’s Jupiter Medical Center has access to Watson’s cancer-focused services. Watson will assist doctors at the 327-bed facility to make critical clinical decisions on how to treat cancer patients, including matching patients with the most effective personalized treatments and instructions on how to administer drugs.

“Watson for Oncology is part of our significant investment in creating a world-class cancer program, and we are proud to be the first U.S. community hospital to arm our clinical team with this cutting-edge technology,” stated Jupiter Medical Center president and CEO John Couris.
“There are thousands of scientific papers, with new findings, published annually. Scientific studies can take months to get out. Obscure studies get buried. Within 20 years, medical research will double every two months,” said Robert Merkel, IBM General Manager for Oncology and Genomics in the IBM Watson Health Division.
Couris goes on to say, “Physicians don’t have time to spend searching. They can better spend time on patient care.”

Watson’s ability to sift through volumes of the latest medical data — including scads of clinical trial data, medical journal entries, textbooks, and other literature — is a sizable asset for doctors who are responsible for so many patients in a major medical community. Watson can present cancer care teams with reports ranking the most effective therapies and treatment options.

“In communities across the country and around the world, there is a growing need for tools that help increase efficiency and enable quick access to valuable information from the collective body of cancer knowledge available today,” said Merkel. “In adopting Watson for Oncology, Jupiter Medical Center joins world-class facilities that are offering the power of Watson to their physicians as the need for cognitive computing in cancer care becomes increasingly clear.”

The IBM press release goes on to say that IBM and MSK have been accelerating Watson for Oncology’s training; Watson for Oncology is now available to assist clinicians in developing treatment plans for breast, lung, colorectal, cervical, ovarian and gastric cancers. IBM and MSK plan to train Watson on at least nine additional cancer types this year, covering nearly 80 percent of the worldwide incidence of cancer.

“We were impressed by Watson’s analytical ability to help provide relevant treatment options for patients to allow physicians to personalize patient care in an unparalleled way,” said Abraham Schwarzberg, MD, Chief of Oncology at Jupiter Medical Center. “Harnessing the power of Watson will help our oncology multidisciplinary team identify individual treatments. As one of the first in the country to implement this incredible tool, Jupiter Medical Center continues to be a regional leader in integrating technology to provide cutting-edge clinical care.”

IBM is already working on various healthcare-focused collaborations, such as partnering with major medical centers to help doctors read conventional medical imaging, and teaming up with Pfizer to develop the next generation of cancer drugs.

Read the Fortune article on the Jupiter Medical Center’s collaboration with IBM Watson Oncology.