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IBM And Apple Team Up For Sleep Study

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Apple has readied its first ResearchKit study, and it’s headed to the Watson Health Cloud. If you were born in the 70s as I was, this might seem like an impossibility. The companies doing something together shows what each have become since being nothing short of competitors back when IBM actually made PC’s.

Wide-reaching study set to use Watson’s Health Cloud

Watson’s Health Cloud was officially launched in Cambridge, Massachusetts in April of 2015. In the time since, IBM has, by all reports, been working hard on the program. Today saw an announcement that IBM would be teaming up with the The American Sleep Apnea Association in a massive sleep study that will utilize Apple’s ResearchKit to collect data for use in the Watson Health Cloud.

“With ResearchKit and Watson Health Cloud, this new app (SleepHealth) will help us build the world’s largest longitudinal study to collect data on both healthy and unhealthy sleepers that can be shared with other researchers in an open-source format,” said Carl Stepnowsky, the ASAA’s chief science officer and lead investigator for the announced study.

The Watson Health Cloud has fully complied with the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and will give researchers the opportunity to use dashboards that bring custom analytic dashboards for the analysis of the massive amount of sleep data provided by both the Apple Watch and the iPhone. Watson will also ask its own questions, possibly, while watching Jeopardy. IBM plans to connect this collected data in the cloud with claims data, treatments, medical literature and other clinical data to discover possibilities that researchers can study further.

“One of our goals at IBM Watson Health is to eliminate silos that hinder collaboration between researchers, patients, and clinicians, and create opportunities for these communities to share and learn from one another,” said Kyu Rhee, chief health officer for Watson Health.

Watson Health Cloud is not a “one-way street”

Those that have downloaded the SleepHealth app launched by IBM and the ASAA, will have the opportunity to pull all the information on sleep disorders and the study as well with the app designed to provide health and sleep information to those participating in the study.

25% of Americans struggle with sleep, and sleep and health are intrinsically linked. Insomnia is a nasty animal, trust me as someone who suffers from a chronic type, that affects as much as 10% of the U.S. population. According to the CDC, obstructive sleep apnea affects as many as 25 million more in The States and can contribute to an increased risk of cancer, obesity, heart disease and heart disease.

All three involved (Apple, ASAA, and IBM) hope that more and more people will learn of the collaborations aims to identify health and sleep habits and plans to continue the study for years as the data is analyzed for short-term and long-term effects on participants’ sleep for the better good of all. Ultimately the goal is for the study to arrive at a number of personalized solutions as well as larger public health interventions that can lower health care costs and unnecessary increased health risks.

“It is exciting to see the Watson Health Cloud and our ecosystem of partners advance our understanding of how an essential, yet often under-appreciated factor like sleep significantly impacts so many important health outcomes like heart disease and diabetes,” said Rhee.

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