Mayo Clinic, IBM partner on new plans for Watson

Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic and IBM are piloting Watson to more quickly match patients with appropriate clinical trials.

Now in its proof-of-concept phase, Watson is learning to sift through available Mayo Clinic trials, automating the process of matching patients with clinical trial options, a process currently done manually by clinical coordinators sorting through patient records and conditions.

IBM is designing a new version of Watson specifically for Mayo Clinic. The cognitive computer will gradually learn more about Mayo Clinic's clinical trial matching process. Mayo Clinic and IBM are working with Watson to expand its knowledge of all clinical trials at the health system and in public databases.

By more quickly matching patients to clinical trials, researchers hope the timeline to new discoveries and treatments will also be lessened.

"With shorter times from initiation to completion of trials, our research teams will have the capacity for deeper, more complete investigations," said Nicholas LaRusso, MD, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist and the project lead for the Mayo Clinic and IBM collaboration. "Coupled with increased accuracy, we will be able to develop, refine and improve new and better techniques in medicine at a higher level."

Additionally, many clinical trials are not executed through completion due to lack of sufficient enrollment. Only 3 percent of patients participate in clinical trials nationwide. At Mayo Clinic, approximately 5 percent of patients participate, but the health system hopes to bring that number up to 10 percent with the help of Watson.

"Using Watson's cognitive computing capabilities, Mayo Clinic can consistently offer more cutting-edge medical options to patients and conclude trials faster," said Mike Rhodin, senior vice president of IBM Watson Group, in the release. "Ultimately, this effort will also help advance scientific discoveries into promising new forms of care that clinicians can use to treat all patients."

More articles on Watson:

Leveraging technology: Using big data to make better purchasing decisions in the orthopedic service line
Why Apple, Epic and IBM will take over healthcare

New Watson-Powered App the "Ultimate Research Assistant"

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