IBM Health Tech: Just What The Doctor Ordered
I’m going to stop focusing on golf and the Masters…err, work…I meant work…long enough to indulge in a few moments of celebration on this, World Health Day.
One of my fave IBM PR colleagues, Holli, reminded me of the fact that IBM had made another key healthcare related announcement recently, the first biodegradable nanoparticles that can seek out and destroy drug-resistant bacteria (and no, that did NOT come straight out of a Michael Crichton novel, although it sounds like it could’ve).
Earlier this week, IBM Research explained the ground breaking early research discovering new types of nanoparticles that are physically attracted like magnets to MRSA cells, ignoring healthy cells completely and targeting and killing the bacteria by poking holes in its walls.
Okay, Turbo, you’re thinking to yourself, so what?
So what, is that this discovery could greatly improve the effectiveness of medication, as this nano approach would be a fundamentally different mode of attack compared to traditional antibiotics. And, I suspect, it could provide for some pretty cool-looking injection devices!
Remembering this is IBM’s Centennial, we’re also unveiling an “icon of progress” representing IBM’s contributions to fighting infectious diseases and contributions to world health.
A few reminders of those contributions: IBM helped bring to market the first continuous blood separator which led to treatment for leukemia patients; the first heart lung machine to keep patients alive during surgery; and the first excimer laser used in LASIK eye surgery…among many others.
IBM’s Health Focus Has Never Been Better
Consider this: One in every eight of the earth’s inhabitants will be over 65 by 2030, and more than one billion people are overweight and another 388 million people will die in the next 10 years from a chronic illness.
New ways to treat illnesses and and transform how healthcare is delivered around the world are critical for both the health of our populations and our economies.
Recognizing World Health Day, IBM is also applying it expertise to address public health issues such as in Cross River State, Nigeria, here biometric identification and solar energy are just a few of the technologies in use to provide access to free healthcare and reduce child and maternal mortality rates by a goal of 50 percent by the end of 2011.
Through the years, IBM has also created hardware and applications specifically designed to improve care, diagnosis and treatment of disease, and advance how medical knowledge is shared.
- Working with the World Health Organization, IBM precisely mapped outbreaks of smallpox in 1976. This effort contributed to the eventual eradication of the disease in the general population a few years later.
- In the early 1990s IBM and the University of Washington built a prototype of the first medical imaging system.
- IBM’s World Community Grid, released in 2004, continues to use pervasive networking and crowdsourcing to apply supercomputer levels of processing power to urgent healthcare and societal needs such as fighting AIDs, cancer and dengue fever and malaria.
- Using IBM’s Blue Gene supercomputing simulations, researchers at IBM and the University of Edinburgh are currently collaborating on lab experiments to design drugs aimed at preventing the spread of the HIV virus.
- IBM is working with Roche on new nanopore-based technology that will directly read and sequence human DNA quickly and efficiently. The technology has the potential to improve throughput and reduce costs to achieve the vision of whole human genome sequencing at a cost of $100 to $1,000.
The Diagnosis: Improving Healthcare-Related Information Flow
Today, IBM is turning its focus to healthcare transformation, helping entire countries develop new patient-centric models of care, connecting health information and enabling deep analytics of medical data.
At the heart of any healthcare transformation are electronic health records, the basic building blocks of healthcare efficiency.
IBM has a long history of creating and connecting systems to share patient information. When standardized and shared, electronic health records provide a powerful means of increasing accuracy and speeding the delivery of patient information to the point of care. They enable better collaboration, more complete records, and better service.
Advanced health analytics provides new insight into the treatment of disease, can speed discovery of new drugs and therapies, and empowers healthcare providers with better information to improve care.
IBM’s work to create smarter healthcare systems, optimized around the patient, is aimed at reducing medical errors, achieving better patient safety and quality outcomes and saving lives.
This year marks IBM’s centennial and healthcare continues to be one of its most important areas of industry focus. The company spends more than $6B a year on R&D, much of it on healthcare, and IBM is one of the few technology companies with large teams of physicians and other clinicians on staff to ensure healthcare’s most pressing needs are met.
Check out the video below to learn how IBM is helping harness the power of electronic medical records.
You can go here to learn more about IBM’s Centennial.
And don’t forget to schedule that physical!