IBM partners with Medtronic, J&J, Apple to use Big Data to optimize healthcare coaching and diabetes care

IBM increased its presence in the device world in a major way, announcing a collaboration around famous supercomputer Watson with Medtronic ($MDT), Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Apple ($AAPL).

New York's tech giant will take Watson to the proverbial cloud, where it is supposed to provide a secure and open platform for Big Data solutions enabled by information gathering tools like Apple's HealthKit and ResearchKit.

A dedicated business unit, dubbed IBM Watson Health will soon open around Boston, IBM said.

The partnership with Medtronic will center around diabetes. The focus of the device bigwig is no longer on just diabetes devices, but the entire care paradigm, thanks to its recent acquisition of European company Diabeter, which runs diabetes care clinics that utilize IT for remote patient monitoring and data collection.

"Devices alone cannot transform diabetes care. The combination of leadership technologies, big data, informatics and world-class patient management are all required to drive effective results in diabetes care," said Hooman Hakami, the president of the Medtronic's diabetes group in a statement. "Medtronic and IBM intend to bring these capabilities together to pioneer a new level of care that will improve outcomes and lower cost so people living with diabetes can enjoy greater freedom and better health."

Meanwhile, IBM will help Johnson & Johnson create coaching systems for preoperative and postoperative patient care, including joint replacement and spinal surgery. J&J hopes to launch a variety of apps targeting chronic conditions that account for 80% of the $7 trillion global healthcare market, according to a release.

Finally, IBM announced two acquisitions to bulk up in the arena including Cleveland Clinic spinoff Explorys, developer of a cloud computing platform used by 26 major healthcare systems, and Dallas' Phytel, developer of cloud-based services that aim to optimize care in light of new government regulations and shifting reimbursement models.

"All this data can be overwhelming for providers and patients alike, but it also presents an unprecedented opportunity to transform the ways in which we manage our health," IBM senior vice president John E. Kelly III said in a statement. "We need better ways to tap into and analyze all of this information in real-time to benefit patients and to improve wellness globally. Only IBM has the advanced cognitive capabilities of Watson and can pull together the vast ecosystem of partners, practitioners and researchers needed to drive change, as well as to provide the open, secure and scalable platform needed to make it all possible."

- read the release from IBM
- here's another from Medtronic