IBM invests in medical technology

IBM pledges to spend $US100 million researching how IT can improve health care

IBM sees a profitable future in IT-driven health care.

The company will invest US$100 million into medical research, it announced on Thursday. Part of the money, which will be spent over the next three years, will go to hiring doctors and medical experts who could help refine the new technologies.

IBM also plans to set at least 100 of its own experts -- versed in practices such as cloud computing, services research, and analytics -- onto various medical technology projects.

"Improving the quality of health care requires more than just digitizing health data ... Enabling greater coordination between care providers and transforming data into clinical decision intelligence could improve patient outcomes and help lower costs of health care today," said Chalapathy Neti, who is the global lead of health care research at IBM Research, in a statement.

The company hopes that information technology will help improve the success of medical diagnosis and treatments, and streamline the medical care process as a whole.

Even before this announcement, IBM bankrolled a number of different health care research and development initiatives within its labs.

Earlier this month, the company signed a partnership with medical device maker Roche to produce a low-cost genome reader.

The company's Zurich research center is working on what it calls a lab-on-a-chip. Made through the same micro-fabrication techniques used to make microprocessors, this device will be a small strip that can soak up a sample of blood and detect the proteins are tell-tale signs of viruses and diseases. Such a device, when commercially produced could cut the time and costs of sending blood out to a lab.

"It is a very versatile chip. You just have to change the proteins that are deposited on the chip to change what is analyzed on the chip," said Luc Gervais, the researcher working on the technology, in an interview with IDG News Service.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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