IBM plans to ‘transform personal health’ with Apple, J&J and Medtronic pacts

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Computer giant IBM is expanding its presence in healthcare with the launch of the Watson Health unit, extending its partnership with Apple and inking deals with Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic.

The first agreement will involve using IBM’s cloud services and analytics expertise to support health data entered by customers in apps using Apple’s ResearchKit and HealthKit frameworks. The move “will arm medical researchers with a secure, open data storage solution, as well as access to IBM’s most sophisticated data analytics capabilities”, Watson Health argues.

John Kelly, head of IBM research and solutions portfolio, said the pact “will enable doctors and researchers to draw on real-time insights from consumer health and behavioural data at a scale never before possible”. IBM will also build a suite of wellness apps for companies using HealthKit designed to help them work with their employees to “better manage their health needs across acute diseases to general fitness”.

In tandem with the Apple alliance, Johnson & Johnson is teaming up with IBM to create targeted intelligent coaching systems using HealthCloud and Watson “to model and apply the best medical evidence to patient interventions and communications”. Devices giant Medtronic is also partnering with the computer firm, saying it will look to deliver “highly personalised care management solutions for diabetic patients, drawing from an IBM insights platform that will receive and analyse data from medical devices”.

IBM has also acquired two health technology firms, Explorys and Phytel.