IBM Commits $100 Million to Health Care Research Initiative

Lora Bentley

Health care IT is hot. We've known since before he was elected that health care reform and electronic health records were high on President Obama's agenda. But now that there are regulations on the books and federal incentives up for grabs, it seems like everyone wants in on the game in some way.


Schools are planning new courses of study, thanks to federal funding, and there will be tens of thousands of new health care IT jobs available. After all, hospitals are looking for the electronic health records systems that will best meet their needs, as well as the people to maintain those systems and teach practitioners how to use them effectively.


Software companies are responding to the increasing demand for health care-specific IT systems as quickly as they know how, and those that have been in the game for awhile are constantly improving their offerings. Last week, however, IBM stepped into the health care spotlight when it made a $100 million investment in a new health care research initiative.


According to a company press release, more than 100 researchers in IBM labs around the world will be joining forces with medical doctors IBM plans to hire "to drive innovations that empower practitioners to focus their efforts on patient care."


The research initiative will focus on three things:

  • Using raw data to develop effective treatment methods that are "delivered in a context-dependent and personalized way."
  • Simplifying health care delivery processes.
  • Shifting the system to one that offers rewards based on patient outcomes rather than one that rewards volume of care.


IBM Research's Chalapathy Neti, the global lead for health care transformation said, in part:

Enabling greater coordination between care providers and transforming data into clinical decision intelligence could improve patient outcomes and help lower costs of health care.

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Jul 19, 2010 3:58 AM Wellescent Health Blog Wellescent Health Blog  says:

With health IT so far out of date in comparison to the technologies being used in other sectors, this sort of investment is welcome news. However, it will be important that some level of standardization result from these efforts so that the quality of care that patients receive not be tied to the particular partnerships between health care and technology providers. While such activities have the power to rapidly advance technology use in the field, they could create a sort of wild west if not properly throttled.

Oct 27, 2010 12:28 PM Audra Banks Audra Banks  says: in response to Wellescent Health Blog

In the UK, and much of Europe, each person is assigned one health care number and health care record that is shared with all doctors.  Europe went through this process 60 years ago and more in some countries, and it wouldn't be a bad idea to look to these countries to see how they achieve standardization of records and practices.


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