IBM's Watson unit forms healthcare partnerships

Watson Health announced partnerships to personalize cancer treatments as well as integrate with electronic health records.

IBM on Tuesday said it will expand Watson Health into personalized medicine via DNA translation and integrate the cognitive computing system with electronic health records.

The news, delivered at an event in New York, highlights how IBM is trying to build an ecosystem around Watson as it tries to commercialize the technology.

For the most immediate healthcare returns, IBM said that it is working with Epic, which provides electronic health record (EHR) technology, and the Mayo Clinic to integrate Watson and EHRs.

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According to IBM, the Mayo Clinic and Epic effort is designed to analyze factors that could impact wellness. Epic has 350 customers and has exchanged 80 million medical records in the last year. Watson and Epic could link up to provide patient treatments and personalize management for chronic conditions. Epic will embed Watson via application programming interfaces (APIs).

In addition, Watson Health said it will partner with more than a dozen cancer institutes to personalize treatment via DNA. The aim here is to understand a genetic profile and gather medical literature to come up with treatments.

The cancer institutions, including Cleveland Clinic, Yale Cancer Center and the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha, Nebraska, will use Watson on a broader set of patients by the end of 2015.

Watson's goal with the cancer collaboration is to sort through data and provide insight on mutations.

Separately, IBM launched a new round of partnerships between Watson, enterprises and vendor partners. Watson also rolled out hybrid cloud tools to couple data crunching with cloud applications.