IBM envisions the future of medicine where vast networks of medical information are securely stored in a cloud network. IBM plans to use its AI supercomputer, Watson, to analyze the data and a make new record keeping system that could be used by all health care systems. IBM has reportedly developed a new department at its headquarters dedicated to developing Watson for the medical field. Furthermore, IBM recently acquired the medical analytics company Explorys, which has access to 50 million medical records in the U.S., and Phytel which gives feedback to doctors and patients about after-care.
Apple knows a good idea when it sees it. IBM and Apple paired up, allowing Apple to incorporate apps based on Watson into its ResearchKit and HealthKit developer tools. This could be used to collect personal health information and larger scale collections like clinical trials/
The biomedical device manufacturer, Medtronic, hope to use Watson to facilitate an Internet of Things for its existing medical devices like implantable devices for heart and diabetes. Watson would initially only collect data for the patients’ personal use. Down the road, Medtronic would like to use the data to further its understanding of the implanted devices.
IBM also plans to partner with Johnson & Johnson, offering the benefits of Watson’s AI learning. Johnson & Johnson plans to use Watson in dealings with patients receiving artificial hip and knee implants. Watson will create a personal concierge service for the patients to help them prepare for the operations and recuperate.
Watson has already been used by the Baylor College of Medicine to identify proteins that could be possible drug targets. If Watson has greater access to health care data, it could draw more connections faster than dedicated human researchers; but there are still hurdles to the process, the most imposing being privacy and security.