HIMSS.15: IBM partners with Medtronic, Apple, J&J to launch Watson platform

CHICAGO—IBM announced a new cloud-based platform utilizing its Watson cognitive computing computer technology that will ensure secure information can be shared among physicians, researchers, insurers and healthcare-related companies. IBM will partner with Medtronic, Apple and Johnson & Johnson on the project.

IBM created nonexclusive partnerships with the companies to improve personal health and wellness as well as acute and chronic care. Medtronic and IBM will collaborate on care management solutions for patients with diabetes by analyzing information from Medtronic devices. Medtronic reportedly is starting with its diabetes unit and then plans to expand to its cardiovascular division.

IBM and Apple will work together on a secure cloud platform and analytics for Apple’s HealthKit and ResearchKit services, while IBM and Johnson & Johnson will collaborate on creating intelligent, mobile-based coaching systems for preoperative and postoperative care.

Apple’s ResearchKit is being used in studies on cardiovascular disease and other conditions. In March, Stanford University School of Medicine in California announced that it had unveiled its MyHeart Counts app, which collects data on an iPhone owner’s physical activity and cardiovascular risk factors. Stanford is collaborating with the American Heart Association on the study.  

With the expansion, IBM will create a dedicated business unit called IBM Watson Health, which will have headquarters near Boston.

“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,” John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president, solutions portfolio and research, said in a news release. “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.”

In the past few years, IBM has worked with hospitals and research institutes such as Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic and the New York Genome Center.

The company released details April 13 at the HIMSS annual conference.