News Feature | January 18, 2016

Predictive Alert From IBM Watson Health And Medtronic Warns Of Hypoglycemic Attacks

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer


Collaboration born out of 2014 HIMSS could be good news for diabetic treatment.

In her Keynote Address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, IBM CEO Ginni Romettry announced the development of a predictive alert for diabetics that can warn of impending hypoglycemic attacks up to three hours before they happen. The innovation is a result of collaboration between IBM Watson Health and Medtronic begun last spring at the HIMSS. The partnership worked to combine analytics and cognitive computing with diabetes medical devices and health data in order to create a new line of personalized diabetes management solutions.

During her address, Romettry said, “It is the dawn of a new era, the cognitive era, digital business plus digital intelligence,” according to USA Today. She revealed more than 500 partners and 80,000 developers are currently working on an Internet of Things platform powered by IBM’s Watson.

“Devices alone cannot transform diabetes care. The combination of leadership technologies, big data, informatics and world-class patient management are all required to drive effective results in diabetes care,” said Hooman Hakami, executive vice president and president of the Diabetes Group at Medtronic. “Medtronic and IBM intend to bring these capabilities together to pioneer a new level of care that will improve outcomes and lower cost so people living with diabetes can enjoy greater freedom and better health.”

It seems their efforts have been fruitful. The new app has been the center of a pilot study of anonymized data from 600 patients using Medtronic insulin pumps and glucometers, applying “cognitive analytics” powered by Watson, and revealed that the new system can accurately predict a hypoglycemic event up to three hours in advance, according to a blog post by Medtronic’s diabetes president Annette Brüls.

She explained, “Our collaboration with IBM is aimed at providing personalized diabetes management. We’re building Medtronic apps that will apply cognitive computing to data from Medtronic devices (glucose monitors and insulin pumps) and we expect to include other information sources — such as GPS, wearable activity trackers, and calendar details. The solutions we’re co-developing with IBM may one day enable Medtronic to provide real-time insights and coaching to help people understand the impact of daily activities on their diabetes and make adjustments as needed.”