IBM Delves Into Chinese Health Care Market

IBM is making moves into the Chinese health care market with Linux-based cloud solutions and cognitive cancer-fighting technology to address an aging population.

IBM logo

IBM continues to expand its footprint in China with a new focus on the health care industry in the country.

Hoping to tap into the opportunity afforded by China's large, aging population, IBM recently announced a move to take its Watson cognitive computing platform into the Chinese market. The company also announced plans to create a new cloud-based health care solution for a Chinese hospital based on IBM's LinuxONE enterprise servers.

IBM teamed up with Bodhi Healthcare Group to build the new cloud platform for the technology branch of Qingdao Municipal Hospital Group. The new solution will integrate health data to help doctors provide more personalized care to patients. Bodhi Healthcare Group is part of the BAHEAL Pharmaceutical Holdings network.

Gary Shih, vice president of server solutions and hardware systems for IBM Greater China Group (GCG), said Bodhi Healthcare sought the LinuxONE-based system for its security, among other things.

"There is a proliferation of medical data in health systems around the world," Shih said in a statement. "The healthcare providers that Bodhi Medical Group supports needed a solution that helped them integrate and draw insights from previously siloed data. This local cloud environment based on our leading infrastructure technology helps meet hospitals' security needs while supporting them as they transform through technology."

The cloud solution, which enables doctors to use tablet computers for patient care, supports all phases of the doctor-patient process, from screening to diagnosis and treatment as well as management, according to IBM.

"We believe data is the future of the healthcare industry," said Fu Gang, founder of BAHEAL and chairman of Bodhi Healthcare Group, in a statement. "With the current accelerated transformation of the healthcare industry, we want to utilize advanced technical capabilities to enable smarter health care, improve the overall capabilities of physicians with a professional cloud platform, enhance communication between physicians and their patients and promote the creation of a proactive health care system through the cloud and mobile technology model."

IBM introduced its LinuxONE Linux-only enterprise servers in August 2015. Earlier this year, Sichuan Nanchong Dangdai Transport Industry Group, a large passenger bus company in China's Sichuan province, announced a new e-ticketing solution powered by the IBM LinuxONE platform. The new system enables customers to purchase tickets through the company's website, mobile app, social media or vending machines. The flexibility of the LinuxONE also enabled the bus company to apply analytics to the solution to gain better insight on customers and their buying patterns.

Meanwhile, back in the health care field, IBM recently announced a partnership with Hangzhou CognitiveCare, a startup aimed at using cognitive computing to fight against cancer in China, to bring IBM's Watson for Oncology solution to 21 hospitals across China. Watson for Oncology is a cognitive computing solution primarily for physicians to help them provide personalized, evidence-based cancer treatment options.

IBM's efforts in China don't come as a huge surprise to Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, who notes that health care has long been a focus area for the Watson platform, for both technological and marketplace reasons. IBM's first major use case for Watson was in health care. And the company launched its Watson Health unit last year. The partnership with Hangzhou CognitiveCare is Watson Health's first in China.