Technology giant IBM today announced its first deployment of cognitive computing technology platform 'Watson' in India, with Manipal Hospitals adopting 'Watson for Oncology' to help physicians provide individualised cancer care across the country.
'Watson for Oncology' was developed by IBM in association with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), one of the world's leading cancer hospitals. Manipal Hospitals' corporate and teaching facilities will adopt 'Watson for Oncology', trained by MSK, that analyses data to identify evidence-based treatment options.
This will help oncologists provide individualised healthcare, company officials said, adding this would be the first deployment of 'Watson' in India. "This engagement represents a major step in the transformation of healthcare in India. With IBM Watson, we are bringing cognitive computing to the healthcare ecosystem to help deliver greater value to patients in India," IBM India Managing Director Vanitha Narayanan said.
Highlighting shortage of oncologists in India, she said there are over a million cases of cancer diagnosed every year. There are 1,600 patients to one oncologist in the country, compared to 1:100 ratio in the US, she said.
IBM said to date, 'Watson for Oncology' has ingested nearly 15 million pages of medical content, including more than 200 medical textbooks and 300 medical journals. Using natural language, clinicians using 'Watson for Oncology' will be able to explore treatment options, analyse information provided, and gather evidence specific to a patients' individual health needs, it said.
'Watson' will benefit both oncologists and patients, Manipal Hospital Chairman Dr H Sudarshan Ballal said, adding that it be available for both rich and poor patients. Manipal said it would implement 'Watson' at its hospitals across the country where it has facilities for oncology and also affiliate with community oncologists.
Manipal has 16 hospitals and 50 oncologists across the country and more than 2,00,000 people receive care for cancer at their facilities each year. Stating that affordability is very important, Manipal Hospitals CEO and Managing Director Dr Ajay Bakshi said, "We have worked very closely with IBM to structure an economic model which works for Indian patients. That was our first starting point."
Without going into financial specifics, he said, "It will be incredibly affordable." To a question, Bakshi said "It will take six months to implement 'Watson'. We are projecting that it will be done by May or June next year. For six months, we will be working with IBM to indigenise it and train it on Indian patients' database."