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Gathering the Data

IBM is teaming up with Apple, Johnson & Johnson, and Medtronic to develop a health platform for its Watson supercomputer, New Scientist reports. IBM is also acquiring Explorys and Phytel to further bolster its store of clinical information, the Wall Street Journal adds.

Watson, known for its Jeopardy! game show appearance, has also been put to work recently combing through genomic data to devise personalized cancer therapies and to model cardiac arrest.

This new effort, called Watson Health, aims to develop a cloud-based database of anonymous heath data, New Scientist says.

The partners will all contribute anonymous information to the database from consenting patients. Apple will be providing fitness, nutrition, and other information uploaded to apps running on iPhones and iPads, while Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic will supply data from devices monitoring people with diabetes and patients recovering from surgery, the Journal reports.

All this data, the Journal adds, could then be translated into personalized healthcare that leads to better outcomes and lower costs. The partners also plan to develop new apps for both patients and physicians.

"The healthcare system is highly fragmented with very little sharing of information, and outcomes are not acceptable and the cost is completely unacceptable," John Kelly, a senior vice president at IBM, tells the Journal. "As we see healthcare becoming more information-based, we see a role for IBM to step in."