Google and IBM in digital healthcare alliance


5 Feb 2009

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IBM has revealed it has joined forces with Google and the Continua Health Alliance to create software that will power personal medical devices we will carry in the future.

These medical devices will be used for patient monitoring, screening and routine evaluation to automatically stream data results into a patient’s Google Health Account or other personal health record.

Once stored in a personal health record (PHR), the data can be shared with physicians and other members of the extended care network.

Using IBM software to connect personal medical devices to Google Health and other health-record systems, patients can exchange vital health information with their doctors and other health-services professionals more easily, and in real-time.

As a result, health professionals can provide more timely feedback to patients on their conditions, suggest treatments and help improve overall quality of life.

In a world where chronic diseases like diabetes afflict more than 600 million, where more than one billion are overweight and where the number of people older than 60 years will reach 1.2 billion by 2025, the solution can also help advance personalised healthcare.

For example, a busy parent can receive daily electronic updates on the health status of an ageing parent who lives alone, is suffering from high blood pressure and is on multiple medications.

A travelling businessperson, who is diabetic and training for a marathon, can have a real-time discussion about her blood sugar levels and heart rate with her coach hundreds of miles away.

Google Health allows users to store, manage and share their medical records and personal health information securely online. Google Health was officially launched last May, is free to users and is available online at www.google.com/health.

“Our partnership with IBM will help both providers and users gain access to their device data in a highly simplified and automated fashion,” said Sameer Samat, director for Google Health.

“IBM has taken an important step in providing software that enables device manufacturers and hospitals to easily upload recorded data into a PHR platform, such as Google Health,” Samat added.

IBM integrated the capabilities of information management, business intelligence and the WebSphere Premises Server sensor event platform with Google Health.

“By harnessing the rapidly growing use of remote patient monitoring across every part of the healthcare services industry, our new IBM solution greatly increases the real-time value of PHRs for consumers everywhere,” said Dan Pelino, general manager, IBM Healthcare & Life Sciences Industry.

“Open standards-based systems and technologies – freely available to anyone interested in using them – are key to fuelling the development of systems that can share and exchange vital healthcare information on a timely basis, whenever and wherever it’s needed,” said Pelino.

IBM developed the software based on guidelines from Continua Health Alliance, a global organisation dedicated to enabling interoperable personal healthcare products and solutions. It is also based in part on key open-source software available now from Eclipse and Open Health Tools, which are open-source communities dedicated to supporting advancements in healthcare.

“With close to a quarter of the world’s population overweight, more than 600 million people with some form of chronic disease and millions more reaching retirement age, the time for greater personal health management is now,” said Dave Whitlinger, Continua Health Alliance president.

“Continua member companies like IBM and Google are working on real solutions that will empower consumers and healthcare professionals to access and share information quickly and easily through connected products and solutions. Together, we can create a new marketplace, improve health and quality of life and advance personal telehealth worldwide,” Whitlinger said.

By John Kennedy