IBM announced Tuesday that it has formally created a business unit called IBM Watson Health, based in Boston, that will execute on its overarching goal to transform personal healthcare.
To that end, the company is also launching the Watson Health Cloud to "provide a secure and open platform for physicians, researchers, insurers and companies focused on health and wellness solutions," a news release stated.
The announcement underscores the broader trend of nonhealthcare companies eyeing the healthcare market in order to disrupt it, improve it, and profit from it.
Nontraditional companies as well as healthcare companies are finding value in collaboration and IBM is no stranger to this phenomenon. It is partnering with Medtronic, Apple, and Johnson & Johnson to "optimize consumer and medical devices for data collection, analysis and feedback."
Big Data is of course IBM's strong suit and the goal of the partnership is not only to collect consumer data from disparate medical and consumer devices but also to connect the dots based on individual data points to glean powerful insights.
"All this data can be overwhelming for providers and patients alike, but it also presents an unprecedented opportunity to transform the ways in which we manage our health," said John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president, solutions portfolio and research, in the news release. "We need better ways to tap into and analyze all of this information in real-time to benefit patients and to improve wellness globally. Only IBM has the advanced cognitive capabilities of Watson and can pull together the vast ecosystem of partners, practitioners and researchers needed to drive change, as well as to provide the open, secure and scalable platform needed to make it all possible."
With Medtronic, the partnership will be around diabetes, a chronic and costly disease to which Medtronic has laid claim. The Irish medtech company will take insights from the Watson Health Cloud platform to work with IBM and deliver personalized care management solutions for diabetes patients.
Such diabetes management solutions will be based on knowledge gained from an analysis of patient information collected from different Medtronic devices including insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors.
With Johnson & Johnson the partnership will be around surgery—specifically, coaching systems will be developed to help with preoperative and post operative patient care in joint replacement and spinal surgery. The New Jersey conglomerate also plans to launch mobile apps targeting chronic conditions.
With Apple, the partnership will center on providing a secure cloud platform and analytics for Apple's HealthKit and ResearchKit. The hope is that medical researchers can access a secure, open data storage solution which houses IBM's data analytics strength.
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