Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre has trialled the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology from IBM Watson for clinical trial matching and found that it would help reduce the clinicians’ time to match patients with lung cancer to relevant trials.

The new IBM Watson for Clinical Trial Matching AI technology can optimise trial recruitment at the point of care, solving associated challenges.

It used the available patient data of 102 lung cancer patients and matched each patient to ten potential trials, achieving 92% accuracy when compared to manual clinician matching.

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre oncologist and co-chief medical information officer Dr Dishan Herath said: “Cancer patients want to access new and experimental therapies and the best way to do this is through clinical trials.

“However, trial criteria are becoming increasingly complex, making it difficult for clinicians to navigate these criteria quickly and this can lead to patients missing out.”

“As confirmed by this study, AI has great potential to automate this process and help reduce the time needed to match patients with trials for which they may be eligible.”

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IBM Watson has seen a 78% reduction in patient-trial match screening time around the world and an 84% increase in average monthly clinical trial enrolment.

IBM Watson Australia and New Zealand health leader Primod Govender said: “We are excited to work with Peter Mac in bringing more innovation to the research and clinical trial process and look forward to extending this work further.”

The research has been led by Dr Herath and fellow clinician researcher Marliese Alexander in cooperation with IBM Watson Health.

According to IBM, despite the clinical trial participation rate among Australian adults being estimated at only 2%-3%, there are more than 1,000 new clinical trials registered in the country every year.

Due to the increased complexity in recruiting patients, new ways for patient trial matching are required to continue advanced and enhanced clinical treatment.