IBM and Hangzhou CognitiveCare announced 21 hospitals across China plan to adopt Watson for Oncology trained by Memorial Sloan Kettering, a cognitive computing platform for physicians to help them deliver personalized, evidence-based cancer treatment options. The initial 21-hospital introduction is part of a far-reaching, multi-year partnership through which Hangzhou CognitiveCare will introduce Watson for Oncology to hospitals across China. This is Watson Health’s first partnership in China.

Hangzhou CognitiveCare, which was established to bring cognitive computing to the fight against cancer in China, will provide sales, service and customer support including localization of Watson’s insights for doctors in China. For example, while Watson for Oncology will initially be available in the English language only, CognitiveCare will provide some translation support to ensure Watson’s treatment insights – such as drug labels and treatment guidelines – are available to customers in appropriate Chinese dialects. Additionally, CognitiveCare will localize dosing based on Chinese medical guidelines.

Watson’s debut in China comes at a time when cancer cases are increasing in the region. Cancer is the leading cause of death among China’s population of 1.4 billion. In 2015 alone there were 4.3 million new cancer cases and more than 2.8 million cancer deaths in China. It is estimated that the country is experiencing approximately 12,000 new cancer diagnoses each day.1 Further, doctors face an increasing battle to stay up to date about best practices in treatment given the high volume of new and emerging oncology research.

With Watson at its core, CognitiveCare is positioned to help transform cancer treatment in China. Watson for Oncology:

  • Increases efficiency for oncologists by scoring and ranking medical literature and quickly summarizing patient records.
  • Enables oncologists to deliver quality, evidence-based treatment options by analyzing massive volumes of medical literature to identify individualized treatment options.
  • Scales world-class oncology expertise from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

To advance the adoption of Watson for Oncology in the region, Hangzhou CognitiveCare will build on its regional network of teleconsultation system service providers tapping into their knowledge of the region, the medical community, and the health needs of the population.

The initial 21 hospitals adopting Watson for Oncology in China are: SUN YAT SEN University Cancer Center, The Fourth Affiliated Hospital of China Medical University, Wuxi People Hospital, Zhejiang Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine, Tianjin Third Central Hospital, Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, Xuanwu Hospital Capital Medical University, Shanghai Punan Hospital, Guangzhou Women And Children’s Medical Center, Panyu Maternal and Child Care Service Centre of Guangzhou, Guangzhou Panyu Central Hospital, Guangdong Province Traditional Chinese Medical Hospital, General Hospital of Guangzhou Military Command of PLA, Guangzhou Traditional Chinese Medicine First Affiliated Hospital, Zhongshan Hospital Xiamen University, Fuzhou Second Hospital, Fujian Provincial Hospital, Ningbo Fourth Hospital, Affiliated Zhongshan Hospital of Dalian University, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Kunming Medical University, and Tongde Hospital of Zhejiang Province.

“Hangzhou CognitiveCare is eager to bring IBM’s Watson for Oncology to reach every oncologist in China we possibly can,” said Zhen Tu, CEO of Hangzhou Cognitive Care. “Watson has the power to transform how doctors battle cancer in China and around the world, providing physicians with insights regarding treatment options that help them customize therapeutic recommendations specific to each individual, based on a patient’s specific needs.”

“Healthcare in China is transforming at a rapid pace but the world's most populous country faces numerous challenges as it struggles to cope with a precipitous rise in cancer and other diseases,” said Nancy Fabozzi, Principal Analyst of Transformational Health at Frost & Sullivan. “Optimum care for cancer patients often requires a customized, evidence-based approach to treatment due to the unique characteristics of the disease. Watson for Oncology offers great potential to help enable the best possible patient outcomes and is ideally suited to help advance China's efforts to improve the quality and efficiency of cancer treatment.”

Watson represents a fundamental shift in the paradigm of computing, moving from programmable systems that have been the mainstay for the last several decades to learning systems that keep getting better as they process more knowledge. Based on cutting-edge research led by IBM computer scientists, Watson has the ability to read and understand natural language. Watson for Oncology was developed by IBM in collaboration with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, one of the world’s leading cancer centers.

Watson for Oncology draws from a massive corpus of information, including more than 300 medical journals, more than 200 textbooks, and nearly 15 million pages of text to provide recommendations about different drug options and administration instructions. Watson also links to peer reviewed studies and clinical guidelines. Its machine-learning capability means it is continually learning over time.

“IBM is committed to working with CognitiveCare as the first mover in China to bring Watson Health technologies into this market,” said Deborah DiSanzo, general manager for IBM Watson Health. “Health leaders in Asia-Pacific are leading the way globally in advancing cancer care. The 21 hospitals in China that will adopt the Watson for Oncology offering join world-class facilities that are offering the power of Watson to their physicians and the adoption of Watson in China is indicative of the momentum we are seeing among health professionals worldwide for IBM’s unique cognitive computing platform.”