International Business Machine (NYSE:IBM) yesterday unveiled a massive push into healthcare built on its Watson supercomputer, inking deals with Medtronic (NYSE:MDT), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Apple (NSDQ:AAPL) and acquiring assets for its data cloud.
IBM said its Boston-based Watson Health business is building a "Watson Health Cloud," a "HIPAA-enabled" platform for "physicians, researchers, insurers and companies focused on health and wellness solutions." The deals with Medtronic, J&J and Apple are aimed at optimizing medical and mobile devices for data collection, analysis and feedback, IBM said.
Medtronic’s end of the agreement involves its diabetes business, designed personalized care solutions using data generated by Medtronic devices "to provide dynamic, personalized diabetes management strategies to patients and their providers," Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM said.
"Devices alone cannot transform diabetes care. The combination of leadership technologies, big data, informatics and world-class patient management are all required to drive effective results in diabetes care. Medtronic and IBM intend to bring these capabilities together to pioneer a new level of care that will improve outcomes and lower cost so people living with diabetes can enjoy greater freedom and better health," Medtronic diabetes president Hooman Hakami said in prepared remarks.
Johnson & Johnson and Watson Health will collaborate on mobile "intelligent coaching systems" for joint replacement and spine surgery patients. J&J will also develop apps targeting chronic conditions, according to IBM.
The enterprise hinges on the Watson Health Cloud, meaning a new deal with Apple and the acquisition of a pair of healthcare tech firms. IBM said it’s extending its partnership with Apple to include a cloud platform and analytics for Apple’s HealthKit and ResearchKit products.
"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," IBM said.
IBM also said it agreed to acquire Cleveland-based Explorys and Dallas-based Phytel for undisclosed amounts. Cleveland Clinic spinoff Explorys developed a secure cloud-computing platform used by 26 healthcare systems to identify patterns in diseases, treatments and outcomes; Phytel provides cloud-based services to healthcare providers to coordinate care to meet new healthcare quality requirements and reimbursement models.
"The acquisitions bolster IBM’s efforts to apply advanced analytics and cognitive computing to help primary care providers, large hospital systems and physician networks improve healthcare quality and effect healthier patient outcomes," the company said.
"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," added senior vice president John Kelly III. "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."