Doctor, doctor: IBM takes diagnosis to the cloud

Leanne LeBlanc, IBM Watson project manager, views analytics of healthcare data at Watson headquarters in New York City
Date:16 April 2015 Tags:, ,

The average person is likely to generate a million gigabytes of health-related data across his or her lifetime – the equivalent of more than 300 million books. That’s the conclusion of computer giant IBM, which has launched a Watson Health Cloud to help patients, physicians, researchers and insurers use data to achieve better health and wellness.

The Watson Health business unit was established to advance the quality and effectiveness of personal healthcare. The HIPAA-enabled Watson Health Cloud will enable secure access to individualised insights and a more complete picture of the many factors that can affect people’s health.

So where does this human data flood identified by IBM originate? It’s a result of the growing use of personal fitness trackers, connected medical devices, implantables and other sensors that collect real-time information. But it’s not easy 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, IBM says. These data sets  are fragmented and not easily shared. A highly scalable and secure global information platform is essential, the company adds, to pull out individualized insights to help people and providers make timely, evidence-based decisions about health-related issues.

“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. “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.”

Personalised decision-making

IBM is collaborating with Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic to create new health-based offerings that leverage 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. It’s expected that many more companies will join in to leverage the Watson Health Cloud platform.

IBM and Apple will expand their partnership with IBM Watson Health Cloud to provide a secure cloud platform and analytics for Apple’s HealthKit and ResearchKit. This will support health data entered by customers in iOS apps and also arm medical researchers with a secure, open data storage solution with access to IBM’s most sophisticated data analytics capabilities

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 leveraging 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 per cent of the R80 trillion global healthcare spend.  Medtronic will leverage the Watson Health Cloud insights platform to collaborate with IBM around delivery of new highly-personalized care management solutions for people with diabetes. The solutions will receive and analyze patient information and data from various Medtronic devices including insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, and use this information to provide dynamic, personalized diabetes management strategies to patients and their providers.

Join the social discussion, include the hashtag #ibmwatsonhealth. Follow Watson on Facebook and see Watson on YouTube and Flickr.

(Source: The Newsmarket, IBM.)