IBM acquires two startups, launches Watson Health, forms new partnerships

IBM Watson Health

IBM has been busy expanding its healthcare lately. In the last few days, they’ve announced three major news with potentially big implications to the entire industry.


IBM has acquired two digital health startups, Explorys and Phytel, to beef up its health data-analytics efforts. Terms were not disclosed for either deal.

The acquisitions bolster IBM’s efforts to apply advanced analytics and cognitive computing to improve health care quality and affect healthier patient outcomes.Cleveland, Ohio-based Explorys spun out of the Cleveland Clinic in 2009. It offers a cloud service that allows combining of several types of data and handling business intelligence and predictive analytics.

Dallas-based Phytel is also in the “cloud business”; its service can hold various types of health data and provide insight into groups of patients for hospitals. The company also sold tools to help health professionals automate patient outreach.

“The acquisitions bolster IBM’s efforts to apply advanced analytics and cognitive computing to help primary care providers, large hospital systems, and physician networks improve health care quality and affect healthier patient outcomes,” the press release reads.

Last month, IBM scooped up AlchemyAPI and assets from startup Blekko.

Watson Health

The newly formed Watson Health unit is looking to dramatically improve the ability of doctors, researchers and insurers to innovate by surfacing new insights from the massive amount of personal health data being created daily.

Apple will use IBM Watson Health Cloud to provide a secure cloud platform and analytics for its HealthKit and ResearchKit platforms.The Watson Health Cloud platform allows this information to be anonymized, shared and combined with a dynamic and constantly-growing aggregated view of clinical, research and social health data. Along with its partners, IBM can surface new connections between these diverse and previously siloed healthcare data sets, and spur the creation of a new generation of data-driven applications and solutions designed to advance health and wellness. Individual patients and larger health populations alike will benefit as providers share and apply those insights in real-time to drive better, faster and less expensive treatments.

IBM has collaborated with leading hospitals and research institutes including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic and the New York Genome Center to advance Watson’s healthcare capabilities and to help transform how medicine is taught, researched and practiced. Among the companies already using Watson’s powerful capabilities are Welltok, Modernizing Medicine, Pathway Genomics and GenieMD.

The new division will be headquartered in the Boston area, and will include IBM’s existing Smarter Care and Social Programs practice.

Partnerships with Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic

Finally, Big Blue said that it is collaborating with Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic to create “new health-based offerings that leverage information collected from personal health, medical and fitness devices.” The results will be better insights, real-time feedback and recommendations to improve everything from personal health and wellness to acute and chronic care. These are just the first partners, with IBM looking to add more companies to the its roster in the future.

Apple will use IBM Watson Health Cloud to provide a secure cloud platform and analytics for its HealthKit and ResearchKit platforms. This will support health data entered by customers in iOS apps and also arm medical researchers with a secure, open data storage solution with access to IBM’s most sophisticated data analytics capabilities

Johnson & Johnson will work with IBM on creation of intelligent coaching systems centered on preoperative and postoperative patient care, including joint replacement and spinal surgery. Solutions will be mobile-based, accessing the Watson Health Cloud and leveraging IBM Watson’s cognitive capabilities. Additionally, Johnson & Johnson will look to launch new health apps targeting chronic conditions.

Finally, Medtronic will collaborate with IBM around delivery of new highly-personalized care management solutions for people with diabetes. The solutions will receive and analyze patient information and data from various Medtronic devices including insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, and use this information to provide personalized diabetes management strategies to patients and their providers.

IBM has received more than 1300 patents in healthcare, life sciences and medical devices.