Technology giant IBM has brought its cognitive computing platform for the health care sector to India. On Wednesday, it said Manipal Hospitals would adopt its 'Watson for Oncology' platform, to offer better personalised cancer treatment.
Cognitive computing or simulation of human thought process in a computerised model is used globally, benefiting marketing, finance, technology and operations.
“We are at an inflexion 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,” said Ajay Bakshi, managing director (MD), Manipal Hospitals. “These challenges are amplified by rapid advances in personalised 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.”
Watson for Oncology has been developed by IBM’s Thomas J Watson Research Center, in association with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, one of the world’s leading cancer centres. The platform has been enriched, absorbing around 15 million pages of medical content, including a little over 200 medical textbooks and 300 medical journals, according to IBM.
“This engagement represents a major step in the transformation of health care in India. With IBM Watson, we are bringing cognitive computing to the health care system,” said Vanitha Narayanan, managing director of IBM India.
Every year, about 200,000 patients receive care for cancer at various units of Manipal Hospitals. This is said to be the first deployment of Watson in India and also the first engagement of its kind.
According to the World Health Organization, cancer of all types claims approximately 680,000 lives in India every year, making it the second leading cause of death in the country, after heart diseases. There are around a million new cancer cases diagnosed in India every year, expected to rise five-fold by 2020. Data also points to an acute shortage of oncologists, the ratio to cancer patients in India being 1:1,600 compared to 1:100 in America.
“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...raising the level of care throughout the region,” added Bakshi.