IBM has signed two important deals that will see the IBM Watson supercomputer being used to further demonstrate eHealth’s potential in delivering patient-centred care.

The deals were signed with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and clinical research organisation, ICON plc.

Watson and Teva have partnered to develop global eHealth solutions using the Watson Health Cloud to benefit patients and healthcare providers across geographies.

Teva is the first Foundational Life Sciences Partner for the Watson Health Cloud and aims to use it to target complex and chronic conditions such as asthma, pain, migraine and neurodegenerative diseases. The collaboration will also harness big data and machine learning technology to create disease models and advanced therapeutic solutions.

On the new partnership, SVP and CIO for Teva, Guy Hadari, said: “Teva is actively exploring the eHealth evolution with a strong focus on fulfilling unmet and emerging patients’ needs. The IBM Watson Health Cloud provides a strong foundation on which we can realise this vision.”

“By building on the Watson Health Cloud, we believe Teva will be in a unique position to put the best information and insights in the hands of physicians, care teams and patients, to empower treatment optimisation for individuals and populations across the spectrum of acute and chronic conditions,” continued Hadari.

As part of the new strategic partnership, IBM’s Global Business Services arm will work closely with a Teva analytics team to assess the data and the analytics model requirements for a real-world evidence-based eHealth solution.

Meanwhile, IBM’s collaboration with ICON will focus on reducing the time and cost of drug development, while also offering patients enhanced quality of care by connecting them to relevant clinical trials through a Watson-powered ‘instantaneous clinical trial matching solution.’

The cost and time involved in clinical trials is considerable, with more than $1.3bn spent on patient recruitment by drug developers each year and yet fewer than 5% of cancer patients participate in a clinical trial.

Commenting on the announcement, ICON’s Chief Operating Officer, Dr Steve Cutler, said: “Recruiting the required number of patients for clinical trials is a constant challenge for our customers and can represent more than 30% of total study costs.”

“By applying IBM Watson to our clinical trials, we have the potential to revolutionise clinical trial feasibility, patient recruitment and study start-up timelines which will help our customers take significant time and cost from their development programmes,” continued Cutler.

Initially the partnership will focus on breast, lung, colon and rectal cancer trials. IBM Watson will allow ICON to instantly tell trial sponsors how many patients match their trial criteria and where they’re located.

IBM’s Watson Health Cloud will facilitate access to de-identified patient data, including 50 million patient records contained in the data set from Explorys, which IBM acquired in April 2015. At the same time, ICON enhances IBM Watson’s capabilities by providing expertise into clinical trial protocols and clinical operations.

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