IBM names health orgs that will receive pro bono guidance from its experts

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IBM has announced the 5 companies that will receive a total of $2.5 million worth of public health consulting from IBM’s ($IBM) experts. The projects those organizations will be working on range from chemotherapy and radiation to Zika screening and predictive analytics.

“The goal is to address disparities in healthcare access, improve services and increase impact,” IBM explained in an announcement. IBM’s Health Corps program offers up a collection of 5 to 6 IBM employees across disciplines to spend three weeks in the civil sector and not-for-profit health arena worldwide. Using data analytics, cognitive and cloud computing, mobile app development, Internet of Things, weather and health consulting, the teams work to design strategy that will help communities.

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IBM received over 100 applications from which they chose 5 winners. Consulting will begin for the first organization in September of this year.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) will receive IBM’s support toward the creation of a chemotherapy-forecasting tool for use in sub-Saharan Africa. The tool could help ACS, the ministries of health in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Uganda, and other partners make cancer treatment more affordable and available. “Better data and predictive analytics in a chemotherapy forecasting tool may more precisely anticipate local needs and improve price negotiations with medicine suppliers,” the announcement explained.

Duke Health and the Duke Center for Community and Population Health Improvement will work with IBM on a framework for an analytics platform, with the aim of helping health, business and public stakeholders share health improvement efforts and understand the impact of those efforts on community health.

Gorgas Memorial Institute in Panama will work to face the Zika and chikungunya outbreaks and the re-emergence of dengue fever with somewhat of a real-time surveillance system. IBM will help develop a mobile app that will allow field investigators to collect and send--in real-time--geo-located information on outbreaks and mosquito breeding sites to the Ministry of Health. The app will also help make decision-making for disease control more rapid.

RAD-AID has plans to provide even more medical imaging services in developing countries such as Laos, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Nepal and Ghana. IBM’s role will be recommending a framework that will help RAD-AID to increase its digital radiology capacity in partner countries with the use of cloud-based storage of scans. “This will enable doctors to compare a patient's medical images over time, making more accurate and effective tracking and diagnosing of medical conditions more likely,” the announcement said.

Lastly, the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control faces dengue fever outbreaks of its own, which are only expected to get worse. IBM will offer predictive analytics which will help to identify those regions that are at greater risk, which in turn will allow the Taiwan CDC to make better decisions when prioritizing vaccinations and mosquito control. Info that IBM could use to this end includes death registries, weather information, climate projections, socio-economic studies and health insurance claims.

IBM has already completed three pilot Health Corps assignments. One was with Unity Health Care in the District of Columbia. Unity hoped to integrate behavioral health into primary care practices, and, after receiving input from IBM Health Corps, was able to do so. This resulted in more than 100 patient encounters with behavioral health consultants who were able to offer more efficient mental health care on the same day primary care was provided.

"Globally, the public health community is on the brink of eliminating some of the most pressing health disparities of our day,” said Jen Crozier, VP of global citizenship initiatives at IBM, in the announcement. “We've heard from our partners that access to data, analytics, and cognitive computing is key to closing the gap. By contributing our IBM experts and technology to partner with these five visionary organizations, we believe that together we can transform health in our communities and across the world."

- here's the press release

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