IBM Watson Health

Last fall, we reported on IBM’s partnership with GenieMD to apply Watson’s cognitive computing to medical Big Data applications. Now the company has announced IBM Watson Health to expand these types of applications. In the process, IBM has acquired the analytics firm Explorys — with more than 50 million U.S. patient records — and Phytel which helps track follow-up care for patients.

The result will be the Watson Health Cloud, a secure and open platform for doctors and researchers to develop health and wellness solutions. The service will be HIPAA-enabled, to protect patient data. The company estimates that individuals generate more than a million gigabytes of health data in their lifetime, and the goal is to create a system that can analyze individual and collective records to find insights leading to better prevention and treatment of disease and chronic conditions.

IBM also announced an expanded partnership with Apple and its HealthKit and ResearchKit platforms. It also is working with Johnson & Johnson to create “intelligent coaching systems” to improve pre-and post-operative care. Medtronics will also partner with IBM to improve the personalized care of diabetic patients, connecting data from glucose monitors and insulin pumps.

This is an important step toward delivering on the potential gains and savings promised by Big Data analytics of information generated HealthTech devices.