Apple and IBM expand partnership to help transform medical research

IBM today announced its Health Cloud and Watson cognitive computing capabilities will support health data entered by customers in iOS apps using Apple’s ResearchKit and HealthKit frameworks. The move, which complements IBM’s new Watson Health business unit, will arm medical researchers with a secure, open data storage solution, as well as access to IBM’s most sophisticated data analytics capabilities.

Mobile devices capture vast amounts of valuable health data from today’s consumers. HealthKit and ResearchKit harness that data so it can be used to improve health and accelerate medical research.

Apple’s HealthKit enables developers to create consumer health apps designed to give users a more comprehensive way to manage their health and fitness, and ResearchKit is an open source software framework that gives medical researchers the tools to accelerate medical studies. HealthKit can be used to create apps that monitor health behaviors and help encourage users to adhere to their treatment plan. Participants who opt-in to apps using ResearchKit can also contribute their health information to medical research/science/medicine.

IBM will de-identify and store health data in a secure, scalable cloud system that enables researchers to access and share data in an open ecosystem environment, as well as have access to IBM’s data-mining and predictive analytics capabilities. Health and fitness app developers and medical researchers will be able to draw on data at a scale that until now has never been available. For apps using HealthKit and ResearchKit, IBM will provide a delivery platform through Health Cloud to easily store, aggregate and model data, combining it with other data sources and types to enrich research findings and identify the next frontiers of medical discovery.

“Our deep understanding and history in the healthcare industry will help ensure that doctors and researchers can maximize the insights available through Apple’s HealthKit and ResearchKit data,” said John E. Kelly III, senior vice president, IBM research and solutions portfolio, in a statement. “IBM’s secure data storage and analytics solutions will enable doctors and researchers to draw on real-time insights from consumer health and behavioral data at a scale never before possible.”

“With Apple’s groundbreaking ResearchKit, researchers can easily create apps that take advantage of the power of mobile devices to give them rich data from a diverse global population,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of Operations, in a statement. “Now IBM’s secure cloud and analytics capabilities provide additional tools to help accelerate discoveries across a wide variety of health issues.”

IBM will also build a suite of enterprise wellness apps using HealthKit. These IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps will be designed for enterprises to work with their employees to better manage their health needs across acute diseases to general fitness.

For more information regarding the new Apple and IBM solutions, please visit: www.ibm.com/mobilefirst/us/en/mobilefirst-for-ios.html and www.apple.com/business/mobile-enterprise-apps/.

Source: IBM

8 Comments

    1. Agreed. If this partnership works out as envisions, the resulting benefits to human health and advancements in treatments could be astounding.

      This is the kind of large-scale data aggregation that benefits society. A key aspect is that the foundations of this effort are rooted in the Apple culture of developing products that benefit people and society while also protecting the private data of individuals. Additionally, although profit may result from this effort, a second key aspect is that Apple does not target profits as the primary motivation for product R&D. Other companies would be driven to develop this type of research database out of a desire to mine personal data for profit.

      Apple certainly makes mistakes, and it future will only be as good as the company’s leadership and their ability to maintain the R&D culture that Steve Jobs helped to develop. But, if you look to the possible future of megacorporations, I would strongly prefer an Apple megacorp over a Google or Google-like megacorp.

    2. All Wall Street is going say is that this collaboration isn’t going to move Apple’s needle. That’s all that matters to Wall Street when it comes to anything Apple does. It’s a very narrow-minded way of thinking. Actually it would be nice if Apple got into some pure health research that didn’t just give back financial gains. I think they can afford to do that much. As a shareholder, it wouldn’t upset me at all.

      1. I guess they would claim that by providing these tools that they are laying the ground for others to do just that. But as the company gets bigger and bigger it would likely be beneficial if they did indeed take more direct participation, it would help enormously from a marketing and publicity point of view and cut many critics off at the knees along with the perceptions they create through their FUD. Depends how much the company values that effect.

  1. If you were the CEO of the worlds most valuable company and you had to keep the ball rolling, what would you do?

    You would look at the largest industries in the country/world and try to become a major player in them. AND, you would have to do it within your portfolio of expertise, either current, or future.

    So, what does Apple see? – Healthcare, and transportation. The AWatch is as much about heathcare as it is telling time. The IBM thing with Watson and iPads will be hugh for health care, along with the individual sensors worn by people to gather data. Doesn’t matter what it is called. Only matters what it does.

    The computerization (informatization) of automobiles, trains ships, and airplanes is already here, but ready for another disruptive technology leap. iPads in the cockpit, Apple Play in the dashboard…….

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