IBM has bought two healthcare startups, Phytel and Explorys, to form part of its new Watson Health unit to supply analytics and cognitive computing to the healthcare industry.
Phytel, a provider of cloud-based services that tap into the electronic health records of hospitals to track and manage the health and care of patients, will bring its technology to Watson Health once its acquisition by IBM passes regulatory review later this year.
Mike Rhodin, senior vice president at IBM Watson, said that the company is investing significantly in supporting the needs of its customers in the healthcare industry.
"The acquisition of Phytel once completed will further our mission by giving providers insights into patient health from data about patient behaviours and their engagement with care plans," he added.
Meanwhile Explorys, a specialist in the analysis of big data in healthcare, has created one of the largest clinical data sets in the world, comprising 315 billion data points relating to some 50 million people.
This data will be added to IBM's Watson Health Cloud, an open platform that anonymises patient information and allows it to be shared and combined with other clinical, health and research data.
Stephen McHale, co-founder of Explorys, said the company's acquisition by IBM will give it the opportunity to accelerate and enhance the projects it is working on.
"The combination of Explorys technology with IBM's powerful Health Cloud and Watson cognitive capabilities will expand the reach of health insights so that big data can finally be used more easily to transform healthcare," he said.
Watson Health aims to give healthcare professionals better access to data to support the delivery of patient care. The video below provides an overview of IBM's ambitions for Watson Health.
V3 contacted IBM for more details on its plans for the acquisitions, but the company has yet to respond.
The announcement of the acquisitions comes on the same day IBM announced that it is enhancing its relationship with Apple to gather health data from users of the Apple Watch via its HealthKit and ResearchKit service.
IBM appears to be increasingly tapping into the data analytics and cognitive computing potential of its Watson supercomputer.
Recently, IBM acquired machine learning specialist AlchemyAPI to expand on the capabilities of Watson.
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