The Mayo Clinic plans to use IBM’s supercomputing system Watson to assign patients to clinical trials, the nonprofit medical practice announced on Monday.
Currently, researchers and hospital staff must manually sort through patient records to determine if they match study requirements, and Mayo noted in a release that it is conducting more than 8,000 human studies at any point. Watson uses an analytical system called “cognitive computing” to process natural language requests and mine large volumes of data to find answers to queries.
The pilot is intended to raise Mayo’s patients’ clinical trial participation from 5 percent to about 10 percent, according to Mayo — some clinical trials aren’t completed because of lack of enrollment.
“With shorter times from initiation to completion of trials, our research teams will have the capacity for deeper, more complete investigations,” Nicholas LaRusso, a Mayo gastroenterologist and the project lead for the IBM partnership, said in a statement.
IBM is designing this version of Watson specifically for the Mayo, and plans to expose Watson to historical data from Mayo’s clinical trials as well as information from public databases.