Location, Location, Location! IBM Watson Health recently opened its global headquarters at Cambridge, MA. With enviable proximity to several biotech and life sciences companies, budding startups and of course renowned universities, IBM’s push for a bigger slice of the healthcare technology pie is evident.
As part of its strategy to make inroads into the tightly regulated healthcare space, the Big Blue has announced a string of partnerships including Apple, Medtronic, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Boston Children’s Hospital, the Columbia University Medical Center, ICON, the clinical trials company and Sage Bionetworks. Also included in this list is Phytel a leading provider of integrated population health management software based in Dallas, Texas.
Of particular interest is the partnership with Apple’s HealthKit and ResearchKit.
Healthkit allows apps that provide health and fitness services to share their data with Apple’s Health app and with each other. ResearchKit is a groundbreaking open source software framework that provides core functionality for developers to build mobile apps to use for medical research. It can take advantage of the main powerful processors and sensors that are standard with today’s smartphones and can enable researchers to gather new types of data.
Watson Health expanded the IBM Watson Health Cloud and added IBM Watson Health Cloud for Life Sciences Compliance and the IBM Watson Care Manager, a population health solution that integrates capabilities of HealthKit and ResearchKit. The potential uses span increased research participation, better engagement, lower research costs, and access to a higher volume of data to draw insights from.
Coupled with IBM’s Watson Health Cloud it will offer secure data storage for health data collected from HealthKit and through any ResearchKit studies. While current systems can store data, Watson gives the additional capability of analyzing the data to give a deeper and more relevant picture.This will enable researchers to easily create mobile apps using ResearchKit to attract, engage and retain research participants and further leverage IBM Watson’s data secure cloud and analytics capabilities. Health data insights get that much more richer and meaningful with this collaboration.
Leading the way is ICON plc, which has become the first clinical research organization (CRO) to apply IBM Watson clinical trial matching to oncology Clinical Trials. This enables ICON to keep trial sponsors on how many patients match the set criteria, their location and ways to recruit them. The Watson Health Cloud will also enable access to de-idenitifed patient data ( critical to ensure participant/patient privacy) contained within Explorys’s data set. Explorys, a healthcare intelligence cloud company, is another recent IBM acquisition.
Healthcare is a highly competitive field. With successful collaboration and data sharing among relevant stakeholders, IBM hopes to capture a bigger share of this burgeoning market. Impactful partnerships and setting up base in a state that is home to more than 600 life sciences companies is just the first step.
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