N.Y. Hospital To Provide Cancer Care Training to Watson Supercomputer

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IBM and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center recently announced plans to add updated oncology research to IBM's Watson supercomputer, the AP/Washington Post reports.

The Oncology Training Process

To strengthen Watson's capabilities as a medical resource, researchers will feed it information from:

  • Textbooks;
  • Medical journals; and
  • Individual electronic health records, with patient permission.

The EHRs provided to Watson will come from Sloan-Kettering patients and contain physicians' plain-language notations.

Larry Norton, deputy chief for breast cancer programs at Sloan-Kettering, said the notations will add "wisdom" to the computer's grasp of scientific literature. He said, "Because of our size and experience, we have super-specialized physicians in every field of cancer. And all of what they actually do is capturable in the language of our electronic medical records."

After inputting the oncology data, researchers will test Watson's knowledge using complex cancer care scenarios. The supercomputer also will be assessed by an advisory board.

Using Watson for Cancer Care 

Martin Kohn, chief medical scientist at IBM, said Watson's oncology training process is expected to be lengthy. He noted that cancer patients might not benefit from Watson's oncology training until the end of 2013.

After the completion of the oncology training, Watson should be able to quickly recommend cancer diagnoses and provide treatment options, Kohn said (AP/Washington Post, 3/22).


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