IBM's Watson Health names leader, launches compliance friendly cloud version

IBM names Deborah DiSanzo, former CEO of Philips Healthcare, as general manager of its Watson Health unit. The company also launches Watson Health Cloud for Compliance.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

IBM on Thursday named Deborah DiSanzo, former CEO of Philips Healthcare, general manager of its Watson Health unit.

DiSanzo's mission will be to scale Watson Health and expand cloud services. IBM has focused on health care as the industry that can use Watson's cognitive computing the most. IBM counts Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Epic and CVS Health as partners for Watson Health, which will have 2,000 employees.

She will report to IBM Watson chief Michael Rhodin and will be based in Cambridge, MA where the health unit is based.

The addition of DiSanzo is notable given Watson Health launched in April. DiSanzo was CEO of Philips Healthcare since 2012. Before that position, she held various positions leading infomatics and patient monitoring units at Philips. DiSanzo stepped down in July 2014 after Philips Healthcare reported financial results that fell short of expectations.

IBM 's new general manager was announced as the company launched a version of its Watson Health Cloud that's designed to meet the compliance requirements of life sciences companies.

Life sciences companies could previously use infrastructure as a service for research and development and screening, but then had to move to a regulated computing environment for clinical trials as promising drugs were identified.

Jim Comfort, general manager of cloud services at IBM, said the aim of Watson Health Cloud for Life Sciences Compliance is to provide the flexibility required to bring more of the drug life cycle to the cloud. IBM's compliance friendly cloud for life sciences is designed to automate many compliance tasks and adhere to rules of the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).

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"There are 100s of hours spent on collecting data and ensuring compliance," said Comfort. "It is a ton of work." Indeed, it takes an average of 20 years to research, develop and test a new medicine, according to PhRMA Research. Meanwhile only .01 percent of drug discoveries get FDA approval.

IBM's life sciences cloud adheres to Good x Practice requirements, an international set of rules with criteria for labs, clinical and manufacturing processes. IBM validates the software tools that operate and manage its life sciences cloud. A partnership with CloudOne, a life sciences service provider, is designed to bring IBM's Watson Health Cloud for Life Sciences Compliance to market.

Aside from the Good x Practice stipulations, IBM said it will provide:

  • A single tenant cloud environment via its SoftLayer infrastructure.
  • Qualification for tools and systems below the virtualization layer as well as a quality management system.
  • Compliance specialists to manage and deploy the cloud so it adheres to regulations.
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