The digitisation of healthcare is on the verge of becoming big business. With leading tech firms like Apple betting big on health-monitoring consumer devices like the Apple Watch, medical professionals are beginning to gain access to hugely useful data from a much wider spectrum of users.
IBM’s platform will offer secure access to individual health data
Now IBM is looking to get in on the act with the announcement of a series of partnerships with manufacturers like Apple, Johnson & Johnson, and Medtronic. The agreement will see IBM provide an integrated cloud service that devices will use to send data to healthcare professionals, enabling up-to-the-minute monitoring of users and better analysis of certain conditions.
Dubbed the Watson Health Cloud, IBM’s platform will offer secure access to individual health data and offer physicians a more complete picture of the user. Part of the newly created Watson Health unit, it will look to harness the apparent one gigabytes of health-related data a person creates throughout their lifetimes.
Apple’s HealthKit platform was launched last year to enable developers to tap into its devices – like the iPhone and recently released Apple Watch – that have a series of sensors built in. Johnson & Johnson will be aiding IBM in creating coaching systems for both pre- and post-operative patient care. Medtronic will be using the Watson Health Cloud platform to help improve care for diabetes sufferers.
IBM’s senior vice-president John Kelly said in a statement that while the data might seem overwhelming to users at first, it offers an “unprecedented opportunity to transform the ways in which we manage our health.” He added, “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.”
IBM and Apple have already struck a partnership that has seen a series of exclusive business-focused apps created for iPhones and iPads. However, this new health-focused deal is not exclusive.