The supercomputer will see you now. IBM has announced it will partner with Apple and medical device companies Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic to develop a health platform for its Watson supercomputer. The company is also acquiring two companies that apply big data to healthcare.
IBM Watson Health will develop an online database of constantly updated, anonymised health information collected from many sources, including health apps used by Apple customers and fitness devices.
The database “will enable doctors and researchers to draw on real-time insights from consumer health and behavioral data at a scale never before possible”, John E. Kelly, a senior vice president at IBM, said in a statement.
It may also give people greater control over their own care. Medtronic, for example, wants to use Watson software to design personalised care plans for people with diabetes using the company’s glucose monitors.
Watson, which is designed to “learn” in the way that human beings do, has been focusing on healthcare for a while now. After it won the US TV game show Jeopardy! in 2011, doctors at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York spent a year training the supercomputer to interpret patient notes and lab results. Eventually, Watson will be able to use the information to aid oncologists around the world in treating cancer.
A similar program for sudden cardiac arrest was launched last year.