IBM Makes a Deal with Apple, J&J and Medtronic

IBM has just entered into partnerships with the world’s biggest manufacturers of medical devices and with Apple Inc. in order to put the health data that would be accumulated by Apple Watches into the hands of insurers and doctors and for creating personalized treatments for diabetics and hip replacement patients. IBM’s move into the digital healthcare industry will allow people monitoring their calories burnt, heart rate and cholesterol levels with the HealthKit platform of the iPhone maker to upload their information through the IBM app to a storage cloud. From here, insurance companies and doctors will have access to this information.

The users who decide to be a part of Apple’s ResearchKit will also have the advantage of sharing their data with medical researchers. This partnership is the latest example of deeper ties between the technology and healthcare sectors, which has been made in anticipation of the boost in the amount of medical data that will be collected through smartphones or the latest wearables such as Apple Watch or Fitbit. The senior vice-president at IBM, John Kelly, said that the ResearchKit and HealthKit platforms of the American technology giant were really unique, but there wasn’t any system that could collect this data and send it to clinical researchers and physicians. Therefore, they had decided to offer a secure database and huge cloud for this purpose.

While the deal between Apple and IBM isn’t exclusive, the latter did say that not many other companies could give the Cupertino, California giant the same security capabilities and storage. Mr. Kelly said that Apple considers this data to be highly sensitive so they wouldn’t be trusting IBM with it if it didn’t believe in their reputation of operating and managing secure data centers. It was also announced by IBM that some analytical tools would also be marketed to researchers, physicians and insurers to help them in collating the data from the Apple devices with the electronic medical records of the patients so they could identify patterns for supporting clinical trials or aid in reducing the increasing healthcare costs.

The ‘cognitive computing system’ of IBM, which is called Watson, will be used for making the tools as it can study large sets of statistics for pattern identification. An average patient collects a terabyte of medical data during their lifetime. The dots can easily be found by IBM’s analytics, especially the clues that have been eluding people for making huge breakthroughs. This is what the senior vice-president of IBM Watson, Michael Rhodin, had to say. He said that lots of people who would purchase Apple Watch wouldn’t mind sharing data with medical researchers because some of them would have family struck down by different diseases.

Apple and IBM’s partnership was announced along with a number of other healthcare tie-ups, which include Johnson and Johnson and also Medtronic, the largest makers of medical devices in the world such as replacement hip and knees and insulin pumps. A separate collaboration was announced J&J with Google for building a new generation of surgical robots.