Technology and digital innovation are increasingly becoming the hottest trends in healthcare. The hype is largely well justified, considering the significant strides the field has made in recent years.
One of the most significant areas where technology has really made an impact is in the field of cancer care and treatment.
Among the most famous examples is IBM Watson, which has made vast inroads in the field of cancer. The Watson platform was developed with a broad vision to bring “data, technology and expertise together to transform health.”
Its initiatives in cancer are expansive and impactful, including:
Diagnostic imaging solutions: “Medical imaging is vital for cancer care, and innovative imaging solutions can help clinicians scale care delivery and transform raw data into actionable insights.”
Life Sciences Technology Solutions: “Unnecessary delays in clinical trials or poor protocol decisions can make developing new treatments more expensive. IBM technology can help you manage the complexity of oncology trials while reducing trial costs.”
Research: “The complex nature of health data makes it difficult for human experts alone to identify the best treatments for cancer patients. IBM Research has been exploring how AI systems could ingest raw data and support oncologists as they make decisions for their patients.”
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IBM isn’t the only one that is venturing into this arena. Other companies have developed their own niches within the cancer and oncology care realm. Take for example Lantern Pharma, which describes itself as “an emerging, oncology-focused, clinical stage pharma at the intersection of Artificial Intelligence, Genomics, and Machine Learning [with a mission] to deliver precision oncology therapies to the right cancer patients with significantly reduced costs and timelines.” The company just recently went public, and presents a diverse potential therapeutic pipeline, ranging from treatments for prostate cancer to brain tumors.
Moreover, the company describes its use of innovative technology to help accomplish its therapeutic goals: “RADR, or Response Algorithm for Drug Positioning & Rescue, is Lantern’s proprietary integrated data analytics, experimental biology, biotechnology, and machine-learning-based platform. RADR is used primarily to predict the potential response patients will have to Lantern’s drugs and to other drugs that are being reviewed and analyzed by Lantern. RADR is also being used to help define and develop combination strategies among drugs in development and those that are approved for a range of oncology indications. RADR uses transcriptome data, genomic data and drug sensitivity data from a wide range of curated sources that are continually being analyzed, monitored and updated.”
Indeed, time will tell how effective this technology is and how well the relatively young company can deliver on its vision.
As a corollary, another example of how technology is tackling cancer is on the diagnostics and imaging front, especially with the use of AI.
In a National Cancer Institute study for cervical cancer, various diagnostic methods for determining pre-cancerous lesions across 60,000 cervical images were studied. The results were jarring: automated visual evaluation using a deep-learning, artificial intelligence approach proved to be far more efficacious as compared to visual inspection or pap-smear studies of the same samples. Specifically, in a scale where “1” represented perfect accuracy, the automated visual evaluation method scored .91, while visual inspection scored .69, and the use of pap-smears scored .71.
This is by no means to say that AI is the clear-cut solution to imaging, cancer diagnostics, or overall healthcare problems in general. Rather, it may be one method to augment patient care, in specific, targeted, and well-tested arenas.
That premise largely applies to healthcare technology in general, whether it be with regards to cancer or generally. Though technology can impact healthcare drastically, the knowledge base and clinical experience of trained medical professionals cannot be replaced, given the vital role that clinical judgement and the non-tangible factors of patient interactions play in determining treatment plans. However, if technology can be leveraged to address specific care needs, and can be developed in a way that is safe, secure, well regulated, and ultimately beneficial with regards to patient care, it may indeed be worth considering.
The content of this article is not implied to be and should not be relied on or substituted for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment by any means, and is not written or intended as such. This content is for information and news purposes only. Consult with a trained medical professional for medical advice.