By Sean Hogan
If you or someone you know has ever been diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer or heart disease, you know what a life-changing experience it is. In that moment, the availability of effective treatment options and the pace of medical research become crucial determinants in successfully fighting the disease.
But before any new treatments become available, it must first be tested in rigorous clinical trials – the “gold standard” of medical evidence. In the U.S., $95 billion is spent on medical research each year, yet only 6% of clinical trials are completed on time, according to the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation.
Clinical trial recruitment is a data-intensive task that typically requires clinicians and researchers to manually cross reference patient data with criteria for thousands of available clinical trials.
Using natural language processing and powerful data analytics capabilities, Watson will help Mayo clinicians quickly sift through millions of pages of clinical trial and patient data and complete this cumbersome process in seconds. The new Watson solution will help ensure that all eligible patients are considered for clinical trials and could help accelerate medical research.
At any given time, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota is conducting over 8,000 human studies in addition to the 170,000 that are ongoing worldwide. However, many clinical trials are not completed due to lack of sufficient enrollment.
Watson will help clinicians extend the opportunity to be considered for a clinical trial to every eligible patient, particularly for patients with rare or life-threatening illnesses, for whom a clinical trial may provide new hope after standard treatment has failed.
This partnership with Mayo Clinic is another important step in how Watson is contributing to medical research and improving care options for patients. Last month, IBM unveiled significant advancements in Watson’s cognitive computing intellect helping R&D experts accelerate scientific breakthroughs and speed up the discovery process to advance discovery. And over the past few years, a variety of leading healthcare organizations have sought out Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities to accelerate research and improve patient care.
By applying Watson to clinical trial matching, we can help advance scientific discoveries into promising new forms of care.
Through this effort, the Mayo Clinic can consistently offer more medical options to patients and conclude clinical trials faster. And as we move into the future, Watson will have the ability to make even more connections based on the information it is learning, leading to even more significant breakthrough discoveries.