IBM Watson, ADA partner to apply cognitive computing to diabetes clinical and research data

American Diabetes Association SVP of Medical Technology Dr. Jane Chiang (left) and IBM Watson Health CHO Dr. Kyu Rhee--Courtesy of IBM

Patient advocacy and research groups are becoming increasingly sophisticated about how they invest in research and wield technology for the benefit of the patients they represent. Now, some are turning to IBM Watson Health to help make sense of their massive data repositories via cognitive computing--as well as to enlist its aid in providing better patient resources.

The latest deal on that front is between the American Diabetes Association and IBM Watson Health, announced at the former's conference on June 12. The pair aim to create a diabetes adviser for patients and healthcare providers based upon the ADA's repository of clinical and research data. In addition, they are issuing a challenge to developers for cognitive computing-based apps to improve diabetes prevention and management.

A few months ago, IBM Watson Health did a similar sort of deal with the American Cancer Society, aimed at better advising oncology patients and their providers based upon Watson's analysis of ACS information. And it's also done a series of deals to apply cognitive computing to oncology genomics data and clinical trials.

Its diabetes partnership with Medtronic ($MDT) that dates to last year is also starting to bear fruit."We have very promising results from our work with Medtronic to build a cognitive assistant for people with diabetes. Our research teams have applied cognitive analytics to real-life, retrospective data from 10,000 anonymized patients, and found that the technology was able to predict hypoglycemia two to four hours in advance of onset with 86% accuracy," Dr. Kyu Rhee, chief health officer at IBM Watson Health, told FierceMedicalDevices. The app, known as SugarWise, is slated to be released this summer.

The ADA project aims to address the needs of three core groups: healthcare providers, researchers, and patients and caregivers. It is slated to enable the creation of a cognitive diabetes database to guide treatment decisions and population health management; a research database to elicit hidden patterns to guide therapeutic discovery; and tools that can provide personalized information based on variables including demographics, disease stage, treatment regimen and behaviors.

"The timing is perfect:  With the rising diabetes epidemic and the shortage of health care providers, we need to use technology to help people living with diabetes have access to critical health information. By bringing together the Association's wealth of diabetes data with Watson's cognitive computing capabilities, we can drive the development of a wide spectrum of tools that can change the way diabetes is prevented and treated," ADA SVP of Medical Technology told FierceMedicalDevices.

In their call for cognitive apps, the partners are looking to incorporate these Watson-analyzed, ADA data. The challenge is intended to help integrate the data into the lives of people with diabetes or prediabetes; it opens this summer.

Beyond Medtronic and ADA, Watson Health also is involved in other diabetes projects. Last year, IBM Research presented data on a predictive model to provide individualized rankings of diabetes risk factors. And it just created a research partnership with Israeli HMO Maccabi to study diabetic retinopathy prediction based on 20 years of data for more than two million members.

"Our collaboration builds on years of work out of IBM Research to explore how cognitive computing can advance our understanding of diabetes through predictive modeling, data-driven care management, prevention and disease modeling," noted Watson Health's Rhee.

- here is the release