Icon Group turns to IBM’s Watson platform to fight cancer

Healthcare group rolls out Watson for Oncology

IBM’s Watson for Oncology platform is being rolled out in Australia for the first time. Oncologists at Australian cancer care provider Icon Group will have access to the cognitive computing platform, under a deal announced today by IBM Watson Health.

IBM says the system can analyse a patient’s medical record, including notes made during previous visits to an oncologist, and his or her family history and medical test results. A doctor can “ask Watson”, which will analyse the case and identify a prioritised list of treatment options with links to supporting evidence. The system draws on more than 15 million pages of text.

Watson for Oncology can support treatment of breast, lung, colorectal, gastric, cervical, prostate and ovarian cancer. More than 48 health organisations are currently using Watson, according to IBM.

“We are excited by the potential impact that Watson for Oncology could have on physician’s care of oncology in Australia,” Icon Group CEO Mark Middleton said.

“Watson for Oncology will play a valuable role in helping regional and remote patients have access to high quality cancer care regardless of their geographic location,” the CEO said in a statement.

In its announcement, IBM cited recent study data released at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Annual Meeting — including Watson for Oncology achieving a concordance rate of 96 per cent for lung, 81 per cent for colon and 93 per cent for rectal cancer cases when compared to recommendations from the multi-disciplinary tumor board in a study at Manipal Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Bangalore, India.

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