Smartphones as tools for analyzing medical data

YOUR smartphone could be a valuable tool for medical research — and for treating a variety of ailments.

MORE MED APPS. Apple recently launched ResearchKit for scientists to create more specialized apps for medical studies. ResearchKit had been limited to five pilot groups until now. (AP FOTO)
MORE MED APPS. Apple recently launched ResearchKit for scientists to create more specialized apps for medical studies. ResearchKit had been limited to five pilot groups until now. (AP FOTO)

IBM wants to use the power of its Watson computing system — which famously won TV’s “Jeopardy” a few years back — to analyze mountains of data collected from individuals who use health-related smartphone apps, fitness bands and other gadgets. A new IBM business will provide Internet computing services for health-care companies and researchers to collect and analyze that data, along with information from patient treatment records and research trials.

By combining all that data, and then searching for trends and patterns, IBM believes researchers could gain new insights into treatment and prevention. The company promises the information will be “anonymized” to protect individuals’ privacy and used only with their consent.

IBM is also working with other companies to use Watson’s analytical prowess in new health services. Johnson & Johnson is developing “intelligent coaching” apps for patients recovering from surgery. Medtronic is creating programs to help diabetics monitor glucose and adjust their insulin treatment. Apple will let researchers use IBM’s platform to analyze data from health apps on iPhones.

Apple already has software tools called HealthKit to help individuals track fitness and health data on their iPhones. Last month, Apple launched ResearchKit for scientists to create more specialized apps for medical studies. (AP)

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