IBM Watson Helps Mayo Clinic Focus Clinical Trials Posted January 19, 2016Real-world evidence and multi-sourced data are transforming many areas of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, including the hugely important realm of clinical trials. At any given time around the world there are nearly 170,000 clinical trials in progress. In the U.S. alone, more than $95 billion is spent on medical research, but according to the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research, only six percent of clinical trials finish on time. Part of the reason, according to CIO.com, is the data-intensive nature of the research, which requires “clinicians and researchers to manually cross reference patient data with criteria for thousands of clinical trials.” Another challenge is that many trials are not completed because researchers can’t find a sufficient number of patients to enroll. Big Data and advanced analytics can help both in matching the right patients to the right trials and in processing trial data more effectively. In fact, IBM Watson is helping the Mayo Clinic on both fronts. More than one million patients visit the Mayo Clinic every year, and the clinic has more than 8,000 ongoing human studies. Despite the patients and the opportunities to participate in the research, only five percent of Mayo Clinic’s patients are active in clinical trials. The national average is only three percent. The challenge is matching patients with the specific requirements of a study. In 2014, Mayo Clinic started using Watson’s cognitive capabilities to wade through millions of pages of data to identify patients who should be considered for clinical trials. The cumbersome process, which requires a significant amount of researchers’ time, is done in a matter of seconds with Watson. The speed of analysis should increase the candidate pool for all clinical trials, and given the efficacy of Watson’s recruitment search, Mayo is hoping to use the technology to increase its own patient trial participation to 10 percent. The ability to quickly access and cross-reference large volumes of patient data from disparate sources should have a dramatic impact on clinical trial recruiting, and ultimately, in developing better clinical processes for more effective treatments. According to this report, the benefits also extend to patients: Watson will help clinicians extend the opportunity to be considered for a clinical trial to every eligible patient, particularly for patients with rare or life-threatening illnesses, for whom a clinical trial may provide new hope after standard treatment has failed. As Watson analyzes patient records and clinical trial criteria, it will learn and become even more efficient at the matching process. It’s important to remember that more focused trials can result in efficiency gains on the front end of drug development (helping to increase the speed of new and better treatment options), and also offer benefits on the back end of drug safety (through more effective post-marketing monitoring). We are proud to be associated with IBM, via its AlphaZone accelerator program, and share its commitment to improving the clinical trial process for pharmaceuticals via the use of data and analytics. In fact, our Population@Risk product helps facilitate in-depth safety studies of specific patient cohorts by using retrospective comparative studies applied in our databases. Population@Risk reports include detailed analysis taking into account demographics, physical and physiological characteristics, co-morbidities, additional medications and other factors. It’s all about rounding out classic epidemiological research with real world insights.