IBM announces ‘Watson Health’; teams up with Apple, J&J, Medtronic

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International Business Machines (IBM) Corp. on Monday announced it is creating a new unit that will collect and analyse healthcare data from mobiles and wearable devices and offer insights to health companies which will use the data to develop new healthcare solutions.

IBM said its new Watson Health unit will provide a secure and open platform for physicians, researchers, insurers and companies focused on health and wellness solutions.

The company announced it will create headquarters for the unit in Boston, MA, with at least 2,000 consultants, medical practitioners, clinicians, developers and researchers.

“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.

“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.”

Big Blue has already teamed up with companies including Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic as part of the unit’s formation.

The new deal with Apple will see the IBM’s Watson Health Cloud unit collecting medical and health data from Apple devices through the Cupertino’s HealthKit and ResearchKit.

Johnson & Johnson will work with IBM to create intelligent coaching systems focused on preoperative and postoperative patient care, including joint replacement and spinal surgery. In addition, the firm plans to create mobile solutions and new health applications targeting chronic conditions.

Medical device maker Medtronic said it will use insights from Watson Health and work with IBM on personalized care plans for people with diabetes.

Furthermore, IBM has also acquired the medical analytics company Explorys, which has access to 50 million medical records in the U.S., and Phytel which gives feedback to doctors and patients about after-care, for an undisclosed amount, to add to its skills in health data analytics.