Watson Health

Transforming Canadian Healthcare with Cognitive

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Last month, British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province, launched Innovation Boulevard, the region’s first of its kind health technology accelerator, focused exclusively on the commercialization of medical technology.

Supported through a partnership with IBM, this collaborative cluster of health technology companies, academic research labs, and health practitioners is creating new and powerful solutions to tackle some of Canada’s biggest health challenges. It is this kind of innovation – with a distinct shift in our approach – that will drive discovery and help transform the healthcare industry.

And this shift is happening right now. When researchers and healthcare companies have access to disruptive and emerging technologies such IBM Watson and Bluemix, IBM’s cloud platform, they can begin to address game-changing big data challenges in the healthcare industry.

Within three years, about 1.7MB of new information will be created every single second, for every human being on the planet. Ninety percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years alone. The opportunity lies in what we do with it.

What can we discover in the 88% of that data that is considered ‘dark’? What kind of information lies in that unstructured data that could revolutionize the prevention and treatment of some of the world’s most debilitating diseases?

According to a recent Gartner study, there will be approximately 8.4 billion connected things by the end of 2017 – more than the entire human population – setting the stage for 20.4 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices (such as Fitbits and other wearables) by 2020. This means that data will be even more embedded into our lives.

How can we leverage that data to improve clinical development processes, to unlock personalized insights, and to drive growth and achieve success across the entire healthcare ecosystem? We must recognize data for the resource it is.

By analyzing high volumes of data, IBM Watson Health is helping to improve the ability of doctors and researchers to innovate by deriving insights from the massive amount health data being created and shared daily. Last year, IBM Canada announced a partnership with Hamilton Health Sciences in Ontario to create a centre entirely focussed on healthcare innovation.

The centre is both a physical and virtual collaboration space that gives healthcare providers, researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs advanced technology tools and expertise to improve healthcare outcomes. It isn’t replacing the experts – it’s augmenting the expertise that is already there.

Cognitive technology and AI give us critical insights and enhance human capabilities – IBM Watson is creating a new partnership between people and technology that enhances, scales, and accelerates human expertise. We need to continue work through vibrant and active ecosystems of innovators and institutional partners – pairing them with these technologies and helping turn transformative ideas to reality.

Innovation is not a long term goal – it happens in days (or even hours). We must use the technologies available to us to harness its power to overcome the challenges in an industry that impacts every single person on this planet.

Vice President, Healthcare Industry, IBM Canada

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