- Some IBM employees who are fighting cancer will have access to IBM Watson’s suite of oncology offerings starting Jan. 1.
- The new health benefit, which is being offered in collaboration with clinical consultation provider Best Doctors will be available to all U.S. employees who are covered by IBM’s U.S. medical plan.
- Employees will gain insights on cancer treatments options, as well as participation in clinical trials.
The Best Doctors team will feed the patients’ data, with their permission, into Watson. The resulting report will be reviewed by experts in the Best Doctors network and a final assessment forwarded to the patient and their treating oncologist, IBM said. All but the genomic service will be free for patients, according to The Wall Street Journal. IBM is still determining the cost of the genomic service, which accrues lab fees.
During his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama announced a Precision Medicine Initiative to speed development of treatments that can be tailored to an individual’s genetic makeup or the genetic profile on a tumor. And this year, the president asked Congress for $755 million to fun cancer research — Vice President Joe Biden’s so-called "cancer moonshot.”
Biden told health IT leaders at this year's Health Datapalooza that the power of big data to help cure cancer will depend on the ability to not only generate and collect it but also effectively share the data.
Watson's cognitive system can translate data into tailored insights that reflect individual risk factors, treatment regimens, and behaviors. Guiding patients according to their unique means and demands has tremendous value, Dr. Kyu Rhee, IBM Watson Health’s chief health officer, told Healthcare Dive.