IBM today announced that Manipal Hospitals’ corporate and teaching facilities will adopt Watson for Oncology, a cognitive computing platform trained by Memorial Sloan-Kettering that analyzes data to identify evidence-based treatment options, helping oncologists to provide cancer patients with individualized healthcare. More than 200,000 individuals receive care for cancer at Manipal facilities each year. This will be the first deployment of Watson in India and the first engagement of its kind as the country advances efforts to transform healthcare.
Watson represents a fundamental shift in the paradigm of computing – moving from programmable systems which have been the mainstay for the last several decades to learning systems that keep getting smarter as they process more knowledge. Based on cutting-edge research led by IBM computer scientists, Watson has the ability to read and understand natural language. Watson for Oncology was developed by IBM in concert with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), one of the world’s leading cancer centers. To date, Watson for Oncology has ingested nearly 15 million pages of medical content, including more than 200 medical textbooks and 300 medical journals.
This year alone, nearly 44,000 oncology research papers have been published in medical journals around the world (1). This amounts to nearly 122 new papers published every day, outpacing the ability of humans to keep up with the proliferation of medical knowledge. Using natural language, clinicians using Watson for Oncology will be able to explore treatment options, analyze information provided, and gather evidence specific to a patients’ individual health needs. Watson’s machine learning capability means it is continuously learning about oncology over time, and doctors have access to peer reviewed studies, clinical guidelines, and expert perspectives.
According to the World Health Organization, cancer of all types claims approximately 680,000 lives each year in India, making it the second leading cause of death in the country after heart diseases (2). There are 1 million new cancer cases diagnosed every year in India, and this is expected to rise 5-fold by 2020.(3) Compounding the growing health challenge, India faces an acute shortage of oncologists, surgical oncologists and radiation therapists in the country. Industry data reveals the ratio of oncologists to cancer patients is about 1:1600 compared to 1:100 in the United States (4). Further, doctors face an increasing battle to stay up to date about best practices in treatment and care management.
“We are at an inflection point in India regarding cancer care, driven by the increasing number of cancer patients in India, fewer oncologists to treat them and the broad geographic footprint of our region. These challenges are amplified by rapid advances in personalized medicine, and an ever-growing amount and diversity of clinical evidence. All these factors compelled us to consider how a technology-based solution could help deliver at scale world class cancer care to our patients,” said Dr. Ajay Bakshi, Managing Director & CEO of Manipal Hospitals. “With IBM’s Watson for Oncology, we can combine our clinicians’ expertise across various types of cancers with a cognitive computing solution informed by expert training from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. We believe the result will be to raise the level of care throughout the region.”
Elaborating on the benefits, Dr. Bakshi added, “Watson for Oncology will assist Manipal’s physicians in their goal to provide every cancer patient the most advanced, efficacious and cost effective treatment if they are seen by a Manipal oncologist anywhere in the Manipal network.”
“This engagement represents a major step in the transformation of healthcare in India. With IBM Watson we are bringing cognitive computing to the healthcare ecosystem to help deliver greater value to patients in India,” said Vanitha Narayanan, Managing Director, IBM India.
“We are honored Manipal Hospitals chose IBM to support its mission to advance health across India, and to add the esteemed organization to a growing community of hospitals and research institutes around the world, including Bumrungrad International Hospital, using Watson to transform cancer care,” said Deborah DiSanzo, General Manager for IBM Watson Health.