Taking the New Era of Computing to Healthcare

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Michael Rhodin, SVP, IBM Watson Group

Michael Rhodin, SVP, IBM Watson Group

By Michael Rhodin

When biomedical companies develop and test new products, they are required by law to employ management systems that prove that everything they do follows the rules concerning safety, quality and privacy. That includes the computers and software they use.

Because of the strict requirements, these industries have found it difficult to take advantage of one of the most important new capabilities the tech industry has to offer–cloud computing.

Today, IBM Watson Health is changing the game for the healthcare industry by introducing a new cloud service, IBM Watson Health Cloud for Life Science Compliance, which enables innovators to share data while maintaining and validating full compliance with federal regulations. For the first time, pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies can more easily move their core business activities to the cloud.

How ICON is using Watson for clinical trial management

How ICON is using Watson for clinical trial management

This move represents another major step in our effort to bring the power of Watson to the healthcare industry. Since we launched our IBM Watson Health business unit last April, we’ve attracted a growing roster of partners spanning research, clinical care and community wellness.

Today we’re announcing new offerings and partnerships and our new global headquarters, in Kendall Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to one of the largest and most sophisticated life science and healthcare ecosystems in the world, and now home to IBM Watson Health.

IBM Watson Health’s mission is to bring together the disparate communities within healthcare and give them the most complete information and the most sophisticated analytical tools so they can help people live healthier lives. We’re helping to transform a large, complex and siloed system into a true community that makes every step in the continuum of care more personal. Also, the way we see things, the individual is not just a consumer of healthcare but should be a well-informed manager of their own health and happiness.

When we announced IBM Watson Health in April, we laid out the three key foundational elements of our strategy. Today, we’re announcing progress on all fronts:

Data sharing: Our open, cloud-based platform, Watson Health Cloud, offers a foundation for data sharing, collaboration and application development across the entire spectrum of the healthcare and life sciences ecosystem. We seeded the cloud with massive health data stores via acquisitions of companies that are leaders in health data analytics. We expect partners and clients to bring their own data and to aggregate data from multiple sources to get richer views of their areas of interest than were possible before.

The new Compliance Cloud is part of our Watson Health Cloud platform. There, our clients and business partners will be able to integrate Watson cognitive computing into their applications, and IBM itself will use the new platform as the basis for some of the healthcare industry solutions that we bring to market.

Partnerships: In addition to sharing data, it’s critical for participants in the healthcare system to combine their resources and expertise to create technology-based solutions. In April, we unveiled partnerships with Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic.

Today, we’re announcing additional partnerships. For instance, ICON Clinical Research will tap into data in the Watson Health Cloud to accelerate the development of new treatment options for patients. Boston Children’s Hospital will use our technologies in its OPENPediatrics initiative, which brings life-saving medical knowledge to pediatric caregivers worldwide.

Analytics: IBM’s Watson cognitive technologies are powerful insight-producing tools for physicians, healthcare delivery systems, payer organizations, pharmaceutical researchers and other health professionals. We’re now bringing a new wave of analytics tools to the platform that will enable researchers, physicians and others to gain critical insights by mining a wide variety of data types, from medical imagery to electronic health records for large numbers of patients.

One of our newest technologies is IBM Watson Health Analytics, a smart data discovery service available on the cloud. The service guides medical researchers, physicians and healthcare payer professionals through step-by-step exploration of large collections of data so they can find patterns that help them understand what has already happened and predict what’s likely to happen next. Their results are displayed in easy-to-interpret on-screen dashboards and graphics.

Looking ahead, you can expect to see more technologies, more acquisitions and more partnerships coming from IBM Watson Health. We’ll also go global.

In the early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy inspired a nation with his promise to land a person on the moon. Today, Watson Health is IBM’s moonshot. Our ambitions are great: Improved healthcare for the world’s 8 billion inhabitants would provide immeasurable benefits for individuals, societies and the global economy.

But don’t get me wrong. We know IBM can’t “fix” healthcare by ourselves. This is a moonshot that the entire healthcare industry and the people who are served by it must journey on together.

To learn more about the new era, read Smart Machines: IBM’s Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing.

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