Today, IBM and MD Anderson announced the development of a prototype of a platform designed to provide treatment recommendations for and help guide the management of oncology patients.

Oncology Expert Advisor will be available to oncologists affiliated with MD Anderson through both computers and mobile devices. The platform will take patient data, both that contained in discrete structured forms and in unstructured clinical notes, and match it up to everything from clinical data, research protocols, treatment guidelines, and more to make a more personalized treatment recommendation. These recommendations may include non-standard and experimental protocols as well – regimens that clinicians may not be aware of yet.

By identifying and weighing data-driven connections between the attributes in a patient’s profile and the knowledge corpus of published medical literature and guidelines in Watson, MD Anderson’s Oncology Expert Advisor can provide evidence-based treatment and management options that are personalized to that patient, to aid the physician’s treatment and care decisions.

The Oncology Expert Advisor will leverage two important resources – a massive database on clinical information and Watson’s ability to process and interpret both structured and unstructured data. First, MD Anderson has built a massive database of information integrating and linking data from numerous sources and formats. Add to that Watson’s ability to analyze both structured and unstructured data, it becomes possible to make treatment recommendations that are far more personalized than ever before.

It is not entirely clear when the platform will be rolled out for real-world clinical use though it appears to be in the near future. Whether it improves care and outcomes remains to be seen but one thing is for sure – the use of big data in day to day clinical decision making is nearly here.