International Business Machines (IBM) has formed a new business unit that will provide data analytics to the healthcare sector.
The company wants to strengthen its partnership with Apple to turn the health information gathered by millions of Apple devices into a useful product.
The new unit, Watson Health, has been formed to aggregate the health data from a large number of devices and providers in the cloud.
IBM’s Watson Health unit will offer insights to health companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic. The new unit will integrate the results into services which can be sold to healthcare companies.
IBM’s Health Cloud and Watson cognitive computing capabilities will support health data entered by customers in iOS apps using Apple’s ResearchKit and HealthKit frameworks.
Apple’s HealthKit enables developers to create consumer health apps designed to give users a more comprehensive way to manage their health and fitness. ResearchKit is an open source software framework that gives medical researchers the tools to accelerate medical studies.
HealthKit can be used to create apps that monitor health behaviors and help encourage users to adhere to their treatment plans. Participants who opt-in to apps using ResearchKit can also contribute their health information to medical research/science/medicine.
The headquarters of Watson Health will be located in Boston. The company will have 2,000 employees, including about 75 medical practitioners.
In addition, IBM acquired two health technology firms, Explorys and Phytel, to boots its skills in health data analytics. The company did not disclose how much money it spent to buy these two technology firms.
Medtronic said that it will work with IBM to combine powerful analytics and cognitive computing with diabetes medical devices and health data to develop a new generation of personalized diabetes management solutions. People using Medtronic diabetes solutions could benefit from new solutions developed in collaboration with IBM’s newly-formed Watson Health unit.
Another company is Johnson & Johnson, which said it will work with IBM on mobile-based coaching systems to help patients before or after surgery. The company plans to launch a new health apps to target chronic conditions.
“Our deep understanding and history in the healthcare industry will help ensure that doctors and researchers can maximize the insights available through Apple’s HealthKit and ResearchKit data,” said John E. Kelly III, senior vice president, IBM research and solutions portfolio.
“IBM’s secure data storage and analytics solutions will enable doctors and researchers to draw on real-time insights from consumer health and behavioral data at a scale never before possible.”
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