2017-03-16 / Healthy Living

A first in cancer care

IBM Watson will help oncologists at Jupiter Medical Center


With Watson, Dr. Abraham Schwarzberg (pictured) and other cancer experts at Jupiter Medical Center have a tool that puts the most up-to-date information and treatment recommendations at their fingertips. 
COURTESY PHOTOS With Watson, Dr. Abraham Schwarzberg (pictured) and other cancer experts at Jupiter Medical Center have a tool that puts the most up-to-date information and treatment recommendations at their fingertips. COURTESY PHOTOS Watson, the cognitive computing system that beat the best players on the game show “Jeopardy” in 2011, is now being used to make decisions about how to treat cancer patients in our community. Jupiter Medical Center is the first regional medical center in the U.S. to adopt Watson for Oncology, and its cancer experts are now using the technology to help them deliver personalized, evidence-based cancer treatment.

“It’s like getting a second opinion from the world’s best brain,” explains Abraham Schwarzberg, MD, chief of oncology at Jupiter Medical Center. “Watson for Oncology is a cognitive computing system that is programmed to try to figure out the best recipe or optimal regimen for an individual’s cancer treatment.”

In the U.S., there will be an estimated 1.7 million new cancer cases this year, with 125,000 in Florida alone. As health care providers seek to enable data-driven, evidence-based cancer care, an explosion of medical information has created both challenges and opportunities to improve quality care. Currently, there are approximately 50,000 oncology research papers published annually and by 2020, medical information is projected to double every 73 days, outpacing the ability of humans to keep up with the proliferation of medical knowledge.

Dr. Schwarzberg acknowledges that a big issue for medical oncologists is keeping up with the world’s cancer literature from day to day. Now, he and other cancer experts at Jupiter Medical Center have a tool that puts the most up-to-date information and treatment recommendations at their fingertips.

Watson for Oncology can quickly: ¦ Analyze an individual patient’s medical information to help their oncologist better understand the patient’s unique attributes

¦ Read the vast and expanding body of medical literature, including millions of pages of medical journals and textbooks

¦ Cross-reference cancer guidelines and best practices to provide personalized, evidence-based treatment recommendations to Jupiter Medical Center cancer experts

“It’s really an amazing tool,” explains Dr. Schwarzberg. “With Watson’s ability to harness all the world’s knowledge on cancer care — in any language — I can sit with a patient and be able to say, this is what the world’s literature recommends today for your particular situation. It gives our multidisciplinary team of doctors, as well as our patients, great confidence that we have identified the most up-to-date treatment regimen available.”

Watson ranks the evidence-based treatment options, linking them to peer reviewed studies and clinical guidelines. Its machine-learning capability means it continuously learns, gaining in value and knowledge over time.

”At Jupiter Medical Center, we are committed to pioneering new approaches to medicine and health care,” said John D. Couris, president and CEO of Jupiter Medical Center. “Watson for Oncology is part of our significant investment in creating a world-class cancer program and we are proud to be the first U.S. community hospital to arm our clinical team with this cutting-edge technology.”

While the technology is a powerful tool, Watson for Oncology is not meant to replace physicians.

“Watson does not tell the physician what to do, it’s a knowledgeable second opinion,” explains Nancy Taft, MD, chief of the Comprehensive Breast Care Program at Jupiter Medical Center. “For me as a breast surgeon, having that additional input helps me make the most informed decisions and gives the patient added comfort that they’re being offered the optimal treatment.”

According to Dr. Schwarzberg, there’s a balance between having a really powerful tool and still having that important patient and physician interaction. “You still need that bond and that trust between a cancer patient and their doctor or treatment team. At the end of the day, the patient and their doctor make the ultimate decision about how to fight cancer.” ¦

To learn more, call Jupiter Medical Center’s oncology nurse navigator at (561) 263- 4269.

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