IBM Opens Watson Health HQ, Expands Watson Health Cloud

Big Blue opened new headquarters for its Watson Health unit in Cambridge, Mass., and expanded the Watson Health Cloud with new solutions.

IBM Watson Health HQ

IBM announced new headquarters and new leadership for its Watson Health unit, along with new Watson Health Cloud capabilities and a series of new partnerships for the organization.

IBM opened its new IBM Watson Health global headquarters in Cambridge, Mass., and announced that Deborah DiSanzo is joining the company as the business unit's general manager. DiSanzo brings to IBM more than 30 years of experience working at the intersection of health care and technology. Her most recent position before joining Big Blue was as CEO for Philips Healthcare.

DiSanzo will lead more than 2,000 IBMers, with a mandate to scale the business globally, expand the capabilities of the IBM Watson Health Cloud and broaden a growing ecosystem that is building on IBM's technology platform. Further, she will oversee a fast-growing roster of clients and partners that includes relationships with Johnson & Johnson, Apple, Medtronic, Epic and CVS Health, among others. She will report to IBM Watson Group leader Michael Rhodin.

Watson Health's global headquarters are located at 75 Binney Street in Cambridge's Kendall Square and will serve as a home base for more than 700 IBM employees. For entrepreneurs and startups, Watson Health's Cambridge headquarters will provide technology, tools and talent to create new products and businesses based on Watson. Big Blue will open an interactive Watson Health Experience Center in Cambridge, and IBM Research will establish a dedicated Health Research lab at the headquarters.

IBM also expanded its solutions portfolio with the introduction of IBM Watson Health Cloud for Life Sciences Compliance and IBM Watson Care Manager.

The IBM Watson Health Cloud for Life Sciences Compliance will help biomedical companies bring medical innovations to market more efficiently. This solution will help the companies fast-track the deployment of a GxP-compliant infrastructure and applications while adhering to stringent requirements for hosting, accessing and sharing regulated data.

"The IBM Watson news announced today blends strategic Watson solutions and tactical moves designed to strengthen the company's position in critical healthcare areas," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "The most ambitious of these is probably the new Watson Health Cloud for Life Sciences Compliance. Though it's an ungainly brand, the new service's focus on enhancing the processes required for bringing new pharmaceutical products to market could eventually improve the lives of tens of thousands of patients."

IBM Watson Care Manager is a population health solution that integrates capabilities from Watson Health, Apple's HealthKit and ResearchKit, a software framework designed by Apple to make it easy for researchers to conduct studies using an iPhone. It enables medical professionals to factor a broad range of determinants into a personalized patient engagement program.

"The potential impact of the new Watson Care Manager is less dramatic, since it aims to allow researchers to conduct studies with iPhones," King said. "But it does highlight IBM's continuing partnership with Apple and the company's promotion of iPhones and iPads to enterprise customers."

"IBM is dedicated to developing market leading, industry-specific cloud offerings that meet each sectors' unique needs," said Rhodin, senior vice president of IBM Watson Group, in a statement. "This newest expansion of the IBM Watson Health Cloud makes it an even more robust and flexible platform for the life sciences and healthcare industries and explains its rapid adoption among leading organizations in these fields."

Meanwhile, IBM announced that Boston Children's Hospital, Columbia University, ICON plc, Sage Bionetworks and Teva Pharmaceuticals will join the roster of organizations that are using Watson's capabilities to transform areas such as drug discovery and development, personalized medicine, chronic disease management, pediatrics and digital health. They join CVS Health, Medtronic and Yale University, among others. Teva and Sage both announced the Watson Health Cloud is their organizations' preferred development platform.