According to recent research, medical data will double every 73 days by the year 2020. Because of this, IBM will be committing Watson - its supercomputer, to the task of analysing this large amount of data.
IBM has said that a person will generate an overwhelming 1 million gigabytes of health-related data in a lifetime – which, in hard copy terms, equates to more than 300 million books.
This growth is being fuelled by the use of fitness trackers, connected medical devices, sensors and implants, which all track and capture real-time information.
Currently, it’s hard to connect all of that data with existing, fragmented data sets in the healthcare system that are not so easily shared, such as medical records, clinical research and individual genomes.
Speaking about the venture, John E Kelly III, IBM’s senior vice-president of solutions portfolio and research has said "We need better ways to tap into and analyse all of this information in real-time to benefit patients and to improve wellness globally"
"Only IBM has the advanced cognitive capabilities of Watson and can pull together the vast ecosystem of partners, practitioners and researchers needed to drive change, as well as to provide the open, secure and scalable platform needed to make it all possible."
IBM Watson Health Cloud
The foundation has been laid for the 'IBM Watson Health Cloud', a global platform which was built with the aim of helping healthcare providers make timely, evidence-based decisions about health-related issues.
Watson Health Cloud is intended to provide a secure and open platform for physicians, researchers, insurers and healthcare companies to access individual insights and capture a more complete picture of the factors that can affect people’s health.
For those individuals from whom this data is accrued, the system promises anonymity by stripping their identities away from the information.
The potential to transform healthcare
This is not Watson’s first leap into healthcare. The advanced computing system has been used in health services for some time now, helping pharmaceutical companies research new drugs, giving evidence-based advice to doctors, and even teaching them new skills. IBM itself has received more than 1,300 patents in healthcare, life sciences and medical devices.
To bolster Kelly’s point, IBM is ideally positioned to combine the massive-scale cloud technology, high-security capabilities and deep analytics from Watson to help medical professionals make more informed decisions and, if used effectively, better cater to patients’ needs.
With this as its aim, Watson Health Cloud could be truly transformative.