IBM announced the launch of its new Watson Health Cloud to provide a secure and open platform for physicians, researchers, insurers and companies focused on health and wellness solutions.
IBM has been promoting its Watson cognitive computing system to advance the quality and effectiveness of personal health care. Big Blue’s new HIPAA-compliant (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Watson Health Cloud will enable secure access to individualized insights and a more complete picture of the many factors that can affect people’s health.
“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 of solutions portfolio and research. “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.”
To further extend Watson in the health care arena, IBM is entering new partnerships with leading companies, including Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic, to help optimize consumer and medical devices for data collection, analysis and feedback. IBM also said it is acquiring Explorys and Phytel to advance its health care analytics capabilities. And the company is establishing a dedicated business unit, IBM Watson Health, which will be headquartered in the Boston area.
IBM says the future of health is all about the individual. With the increasing prevalence of personal fitness trackers, connected medical devices, implantables and other sensors that collect real-time information, the average person is likely to generate more than 1 million gigabytes of health-related data in their lifetime—the equivalent of more than 300 million books, IBM said.
However, it is growing more difficult to connect these dynamic and constantly growing pools of information with more traditional sources such as doctor-created medical records, clinical research and individual genomes—data sets that are highly fragmented and not easily shared. A scalable and secure global information platform is required to pull out individualized insights to help people and providers make timely, evidence-based decisions about health-related issues.
IBM is collaborating with Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic to create new health-based offerings that use information collected from personal health, medical and fitness devices. The results will be better insights, real-time feedback and recommendations to improve everything from personal health and wellness to acute and chronic care. These relationships are non-exclusive, and IBM anticipates many more companies will use the Watson Health Cloud platform.
IBM and Apple will expand their existing enterprise mobility partnership to apply cloud services and analytics to HealthKit and ResearchKit, key features of the new Apple Watch and iOS. IBM will provide a secure research capability on the Watson Health Cloud platform, de-identifying personal data to allow researchers to easily store, aggregate and model information collected from iOS users who opt-in to contribute personal data to medical research.
Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson will collaborate with IBM to create intelligent coaching systems centered on preoperative and postoperative patient care, including joint replacement and spinal surgery. Solutions will be mobile-based, accessing the Watson Health Cloud and using IBM Watson’s cognitive capabilities. Johnson & Johnson will also look to launch new health apps targeting chronic conditions, which currently cost consumers as much as 80 percent of the $7 trillion global health care spend.
In addition, Medtronic will use the Watson Health Cloud insights platform to collaborate with IBM around delivery of new highly personalized care management solutions for people with diabetes. The system will receive and analyze patient information and data from various devices, including insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, and use this information to provide dynamic, personalized diabetes management strategies to patients and their providers.
IBM Launches Watson Health Cloud, New Health Unit
IBM’s planned acquisition of Cleveland-based Explorys and Dallas-based Phytel—two health care technology companies that apply big data and analytics to help improve the quality of health for individuals and large population groups—will complement its capabilities. Terms were not disclosed for either deal.
Explorys is a 2009 spinoff from the Cleveland Clinic that offers a secure cloud-computing platform used by 26 major integrated health care systems to identify patterns in diseases, treatments and outcomes. It integrates more than 315 billion clinical, financial, and operational data elements, spanning 50 million patients, 360 hospitals and more than 317,000 providers. Market intelligence firm IDC recently recognized Explorys as a global leader in health care clinical and financial analysis.
Phytel provides cloud-based services that help health care providers and care teams meet new health care quality requirements and reimbursement models. The acquisition bolsters IBM’s efforts to apply advanced analytics and cognitive computing to help primary care providers, large hospital systems and physician networks improve health care quality and deliver healthier patient outcomes.
Building on IBM’s strengths in cognitive computing, analytics, security and cloud, the new Watson Health unit aims to dramatically improve the ability of doctors, researchers and insurers to innovate by surfacing new insights from the massive amount of personal health data being created daily.
The Watson Health Cloud platform allows this information to be anonymized, shared and combined with a dynamic aggregated view of clinical, research and social health data. IBM and its ecosystem of clients, partners and medical researchers can surface new connections between these diverse and previously siloed health care data sets, and spur the creation of a new generation of data-driven applications and solutions designed to advance health and wellness.
The medical community is one of the earliest adopters of Watson cognitive computing technology. IBM has collaborated with leading hospitals and research institutes, including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic and the New York Genome Center to advance Watson’s health care capabilities and to help transform how medicine is taught, researched and practiced.
Innovative partners, including Welltok, Modernizing Medicine, Pathway Genomics and GenieMD, are already using Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities, giving rise to a new breed of health apps that are redefining how individuals and organizations think about personal health management. Cognitive computing systems learn and interact naturally with people to extend what either humans or machines could do on their own. They help human experts make better decisions by penetrating the complexity of big data.
“Watson Health builds on years of collaborative relationships with leaders across the health care ecosystem,” Michael Rhodin, senior vice president of IBM Watson, said in a statement. “The groundbreaking applications of Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities by medical clients and partners clearly demonstrated the potential to fundamentally change the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of health care delivery worldwide.”
IBM will open a headquarters location for the new unit in the Boston area and expand its Watson presence in New York City. Big Blue also will dedicate at least 2,000 consultants, medical practitioners, clinicians, developers and researchers to design, develop and accelerate the adoption of Watson Health capabilities. The new unit will include IBM’s existing Smarter Care and Social Programs practice, which was created three years ago following the acquisition of Curam Software, a provider of health and social program management solutions.