IBM Watson and ADA team to help drive diabetes management innovation


IBM Watson and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) will collaborate to create better disease management tools for those affected by diabetes.

The project, unveiled at the ADA’s 76th Scientific Sessions will utilise both Watson’s cognitive computer power and the ADA’s vast database of clinical and scientific data to create a first-of-its-kind patient and caregiver advisor.

Both companies also announced a challenge to app developers to create innovative methods in which to improve diabetes prevention and management.

"For more than 75 years, the American Diabetes Association has promoted a data-driven approach to clinical care and disease management because we know it can significantly improve peoples' lives while also reducing health care costs," said Kevin Hagan, CEO of the ADA. "By combining the Association's enormous body of valuable data with Watson's cognitive computing capabilities, we will empower people living with diabetes, clinicians and researchers with better data and better insights, which ultimately can lead to better outcomes."

With the addition of the 66 years-worth of diabetes research data supplied by the ADA’s data repository, Watson will be trained to understand diabetes and formulate both potential risk factors and evidence-based recommendations.

The end result would come in three forms: a cognitive diabetes database intended to better inform treatment and care decisions by healthcare professionals; a cloud-based data and insights platform that allows researchers to leverage Watson’s analytical power to identify potential patterns and novel therapeutic options from the ADA’s body of clinical data; and a cognitive tool (for example, an app) for people living with diabetes or prediabetes that could provide tailored information and insights for each individual.

"As the science of diabetes advances, big data presents a tremendous opportunity in diabetes care and prevention. But patients, caregivers and healthcare providers need access to cognitive tools that can help them translate that big data into action, and Watson can offer access to timely, personalized insights," said Kyu Rhee, chief health officer at IBM Watson Health. "The American Diabetes Association is the ideal partner for IBM to enable this type of developer challenge, given the Association's role establishing clinical care standards worldwide. Our collective goal is to provide the motivation, the tools and the insights to transform clinical care, self-management and accelerate scientific breakthroughs."

A disease that affects an estimated 422 million people globally – and, according to the World Health Organisation, will become the 7th leading cause of death by 2030 - diabetes has been a hotbed for innovation over recent months with many companies focussing on new methods to manage the condition. Livongo, Intarcia and Islexa have all demonstrated novel ways to better treat and monitor the condition whilst names such as Google, Sanofi and IBM are partnering with others to leverage big data and analytical capabilities to create innovative beyond-the-pill solutions.

The developer innovation challenge, due to open this summer, will allow developers to utilise both Watson cognitive capabilities and ADA’s data to create management tools for those with diabetes or prediabetes. More information about the challenge can be found here:

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Marco Ricci