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May 7, 2015

Watson supercomputer comes to 14 hospitals

Daily Briefing

IBM on Tuesday announced it is partnering with 14 health systems and cancer centers to use its Watson supercomputer platform for cancer research efforts.

The participating organizations are:

  • Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago;
  • BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver, British Columbia;
  • City of Hope National Medical Center, Monrovia, California;
  • Cleveland Clinic;
  • Duke Cancer Institute, Durham, North Carolina;
  • Buffett Cancer Center at the University of Nebraska, Omaha;
  • McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis;
  • New York Genome Center;
  • Sanford Health, Sioux Falls, South Dakota;
  • University of Kansas Cancer Center, Kansas City;
  • University of North Carolina Lineberger Cancer Center, Chapel Hill;
  • University of Southern California Center for Applied Molecular Medicine, Los Angeles;
  • University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle; and
  • Yale Cancer Center, New Haven, Connecticut.

IBM unveils new Watson Health unit

Details of project

According to Modern Healthcare, researchers will use Watson to sort through individuals' genetic data and pair them with medical literature to find the most suitable treatments. Watson is expected to help the researchers better decide on personalized treatment plans that target specific cancer-causing gene mutations, which could lead to improved patient outcomes.

Specifically, users will be able to upload patient data into the system, where it will be analyzed to find the genes responsible for the cancer. The process would take weeks for physicians to complete manually, but will take minutes using the Watson system, according to Modern Healthcare.

The partnering cancer centers and health systems are expected to begin using Watson by late 2015. The facilities will pay an undisclosed fee to use the technology.

IBM said it expects more cancer centers to join the project later this year.

Watson supercomputer graduates medical school

IBM announces EHR integration project

In related news, IBM also announced that it will integrate Watson with Epic electronic health record (EHR) system, Modern Healthcare reports.

The integration will allow Watson to use individualized data to recommend medical literature and case studies in real time through Epic's advanced decision support technology. Specifically, the initiative will use Epic HL7's Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources.

IBM Watson Senior Vice President Mike Rhodin said the EHR project "is just the first step in our vision to bring more personalized care to individual patients by connecting traditional sources of patient information with the growing pools of dynamic and constantly growing health care information."

Delivering on the promise of patient-centered care

Epic President Carl Dvorak said the integration will "brin[g] another level of cognitive computing and augmented intelligence to mainstream health care, to improve safety and outcomes for patients globally" (Rubenfire, Modern Healthcare, 5/5 [subscription required]; Costa, U.S. News & World Report, 5/5; Begley, Reuters, 5/5; Bresnick, Health IT Analytics, 5/5; IBM release, 5/5).

The takeaway: The Watson supercomputer is expected to help researchers at 14 hospitals and cancer centers decide on personalized treatment plans that target specific cancer-causing gene mutations, which could lead to improved patient outcomes.

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