IBM teams up with Apple and other key health players to be in one of the hottest life sciences fields today: digital health. For more on this topic, check the dedicated category of my blog.
Using Apple’s HealthKit Platform, together with IBM app, will allow users to track their heart rate, calories burnt and cholesterol levels (and maybe much more data in the next future). The next step, if users are willing to do it, is to share these data with medical researchers, doctors and, why not, insurance companies (like in this NYT article). This emerging trend is called Data Philanthropy.
The current trend is now to have deeper ties between the life sciences and tech/IT fields.
It is fascinating to study health data trends from craddle to grave but the biggest challenge is to organize available data and electronic health records in order to better care for the patients and improve health outcomes without increasing costs.
IBM is fully committed as it also indicated it will commercialize dedicated tools for medical researchers, doctors and insurance companies with two goals in mind: support clinical trials (enrollment, data collection & analysis) AND contain healthcare costs. IBM already has a big data computing system named Watson, able to query this huge amount of data and spot trends.
“The average patient will collect a terabyte of medical data in their lifetime. Our analytics will be able to find the dots, the clues that are eluding us, and find new breakthroughs,” said Michael Rhodin, senior vice-president of IBM Watson.
The two other deals done with J&J and Medtronic are showing the real life impact of digital health:
– J&J has asked IBM to build a “coaching system” to ensure patients are fit enough to undergo spinal surgery or joint replacement, and to encourage them to do the right exercises after their operation.
– IBM is also working with Medtronic on a smart diabetes treatment system that would take readings from a patient’s glucose monitor and ensure their insulin pump dispenses the precise amount of drug required.