Apr 11 2018

AI Delves into Data to Match Patients with Clinical Trials at the Mayo Clinic

By tapping IBM Watson for Clinical Trial Matching to aid breast cancer patients, the provider has seen an 80 percent jump in enrollment for clinical trials.

Slowly, artificial intelligence in healthcare is moving out of the realm of possibility and into the real world. In fact, the Mayo Clinic can tout a recent success in its work with IBM’s cognitive supercomputer, IBM Watson.

Through its work with IBM Watson for Clinical Trial Matching, the provider’s oncology practice saw an 80 percent spike in enrollment for Mayo’s systemic therapy clinical trials for breast cancer over an 11-month period, according to a news release from the Mayo Clinic.

“Novel solutions are necessary to address this unmet clinical need, advance cancer research and treatments, and, in turn, improve the health outcomes of patients,” Tufia Haddad, a Mayo Clinic oncologist and physician leader for the Watson for Clinical Trial Matching project, said in the news release.

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AI Offers Simpler, Faster Patient Matching

So, how has the Mayo Clinic managed to bolster its breast cancer trial enrollment process with AI? It does so by using IBM Watson to “accurately and consistently” match patients to the clinical trials they might be eligible for, which allows providers and patients alike to incorporate the trial into a larger health plan, if they so desire.

“Watson is able to give us faster, better matching of patients to potential clinical trials that our oncologists wouldn’t otherwise be able to see,” Christopher Ross, CIO at the Mayo Clinic, told MobiHealthNews.

The system pulls insights from lab results, doctor notes and other data to create a ranked list of trials that a patient might be eligible for, which is then made readily available to clinicians. This is a far cry from the previous way of patient matching, which required clinicians to dig through patient information manually and check how it lined up with the trial.

“This has enabled all patients to be screened for all available clinical trial opportunities,” Haddad said in the news release. “The speed and accuracy of Watson and the team of screening coordinators allow our physicians to efficiently develop treatment plans for patients that reflect the full range of options available to support their care.”

Moreover, the success of the trial has spurred the Mayo Clinic to widen AI’s use in trials to help match patients with other types of cancers or for other aspects of care “beyond medical therapies, such as surgery, radiation and supportive care,” the news release notes.

“We’re working on clinical trial matching and not clinical trial managing,” Ross told MobiHealthNews. “It involves recruitment and the matching process. We’re also working with IBM, looking for opportunities. We’ve started with the one-patient-at-a-time thing: I have a patient with these characteristics, let me match that up against what’s available. And so Watson reads the patient record, Watson reads all of CT.gov, Watson has read all of the literature on the planet, and then tries to figure out a match on a probabilistic basis between all those things.”

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