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IBM's Watson Question Answering System Will Team with Cedars-Sinai Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute

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The IBM Watson AI may be 1000 times faster than humans in solving certain problems.

In December 2011 Health insurance provider WellPoint announced that the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute in Los Angeles would provide clinical expertise to help shape WellPoint's new health care solutions utilizing IBM's Watson question answering system.

"It is estimated that new clinical research and medical information doubles every five years, and nowhere is this knowledge advancing more quickly than in the complex area of cancer care.  

"WellPoint believes oncology is one of the medical fields that could greatly benefit from this technology, given IBM Watson's ability to respond to inquiries posed in natural language and to learn from the responses it generates. The WellPoint health care solutions will draw from vast libraries of information including medical evidence-based scientific and health care data, and clinical insights from institutions like Cedars-Sinai. The goal is to assist physicians in evaluating evidence-based treatment options that can be delivered to the physician in a matter of seconds for assessment. WellPoint and Cedars-Sinai envision that this valuable enhancement to the decision-making process could empower physician-patient discussions about the best and most effective courses of treatment and improve the overall quality of patient care.  

"Cedars-Sinai was selected as WellPoint's partner based on its reputation as one of the nation's premier cancer institutions and its proven results in the diagnosis and treatment of complex cancers. Cedars-Sinai has experience and demonstrated success in working with technology innovators and shares WellPoint's commitment to improving the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of health care through innovation and technology.  

"Cedars-Sinai's oncology experts will help develop recommendations on appropriate clinical content for the WellPoint health care solutions. They will also assist in the evaluation and testing of the specific tools that WellPoint plans to develop for the oncology field utilizing IBM's Watson technology. The Cedars-Sinai cancer experts will enter hypothetical patient scenarios, evaluate the proposed treatment options generated by IBM Watson, and provide guidance on how to improve the content and utility of the treatment options provided to the physicians.  

"Leading Cedars-Sinai's efforts is M. William Audeh, M.D., medical director of its Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. Dr. Audeh will work closely with WellPoint's clinical experts to provide advice on how the solutions may be best utilized in clinical practice to support increased understanding of the evolving body of knowledge in cancer, including emerging therapies not widely known by community physicians. As the solutions are developed, Dr. Audeh will also provide guidance on how the make the WellPoint offering useful and practical for physicians and patients.

" 'As we design the WellPoint systems that leverage IBM Watson's capabilities, it is essential that we incorporate the highly-specialized knowledge and real-life practice experiences of the nation's premier clinical experts,' said Harlan Levine, MD, executive vice president of WellPoint's Comprehensive Health Solutions. 'The contributions from Dr. Audeh, coupled with the expertise throughout Cedars-Sinai's Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, will be invaluable to implementing this WellPoint offering and could ultimately benefit millions of Americans across the country.'

"WellPoint anticipates deploying their first offering next year, working with select physician groups in clinical pilots" (, accessed 12-17-2011).

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