IBM puts Watson to work on cancer with new patient-advisor tool

It will tap natural language processing and offer personalised advice

IBM's Watson West hub in San Francisco. Credit: Tony Avelar/IBM

IBM's Watson West hub in San Francisco. Credit: Tony Avelar/IBM

IBM is developing a new weapon in the battle against cancer that will put Watson to work in a new way. Partnering with the American Cancer Society, IBM is building a virtual advisor that uses machine learning to give patients personalised information and advice.

The advisor will begin by looking at the type of cancer the patient is suffering from, the stage of the disease and the treatments administered so far. Using that and other data, it will try to offer care advice and answer patients' questions.

Watson's voice recognition and natural language processing will enable users to ask questions and receive audible responses.

A person with breast cancer, for instance, could ask the advisor what might be causing her pain. Having learned from the experiences of people with similar characteristics, the tool can respond with information about symptoms and options for self care based on the patient's situation.

Over time, the advisor will become increasingly personalised as it learns more about the user, resulting in recommendations that match her preferences, such as for online support groups over telephone calls.

To create the tool, IBM and ACS will tap their massive combined stores of data and use it to train Watson. Included in that data will be Cancer.org's 14,000 pages of detailed information on more than 70 cancer topics as well as the ACS National Cancer Information Center’s aggregated data about self-management, support groups, wellness activities and cancer education.

The tool will also surface insights from IBM's Watson Health Cloud.

"It’s about providing the right information to the right people at the right time,” said Gary Reedy, CEO of the American Cancer Society.

More than 1.6 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year. IBM's effort is one of several in the tech industry that aim to make it easier to share and analyse large amounts of data to help treat patients and, ultimately, advance cures for diseases. Intel has a project called the Collaborative Cancer Cloud, for instance, which will allow hospitals and universities to more easily share genomic, imaging and clinical patient data for research purposes.

Ultimately, ACS and IBM aim to integrate their patient advisor with IBM’s existing Watson for Oncology offering for doctors.

In related news, IBM on Tuesday also launched a new program called the IBM Health Corps that aims to help communities address health challenges around the world.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags virtual advisorAmerican Cancer SocietyIBMWatsoncancer research

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?