IBM teams up with Quest Diagnostics for precision medicine service and 7 more digital health deals

By Heather Mack
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IBM has partnered with Quest Diagnostics to launch a new precision medicine service that blends cognitive computing with genomic tumor sequencing. The service, IBM Watson Genomics from Quest Diagnostics, allows a physician to send a tissue sample to Quest, which will sequence the tumor DNA and send the genetic data through Watson for analysis. Watson runs through its reposititory of literature, clinical studies and medication therapies, and also incorporates insights from oncologists to deliver treatment options that may work on the tumor. This marks the first time Watson for Genomics has been made widely available to patients and physicians. More

Digital health company Validic, which makes a platform connecting all members of the healthcare ecosystem to a centralized repository of data from clinical devices, wearables and apps, has partnered with Sutter Health on a federal pilot project to explore how patient-generated health data can be used most effectively to improve care outcomes. The pilot the result of a contract with Accenture Federal Services and the Office of the National Coordinator, and is part of a suite of projects focused on nationwide efforts to research how innovation in health information technology can improve patient care. More

Highmark, which is the fourth largest Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer in the US and covers patients in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia, has tapped Denver-based Welltok to offer a rewards program to members in its Medicare Advantage Passport program. Up until now, the Passport program has provider Highmark Medicare Advantage members with benefit information, savings opportunities and a personal care plan. The partnership will add access to Welltok's CafeWell Rewards program, which uses gift card incentives to reward patients for things like getting an annual wellness visit, getting an HbA1C screening (for patients with diabetes), or other health goals. More

The Indian Health Service is now working with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to research the possibility of telehealth-enabled specialty consultations for American Indian and Alaska Native children served by IHS. The goal of the partnership (both entered into a Memorandum of Understanding) is to create a model for physician-to-physician consultation service, and the first step will be to develop a comprehensive pediatric telemedicine plan for IHS members in Navajo, Phoenix, Tucson and Albuquerque regions.

"Access to pediatric specialty care is limited across much of the United States, with many communities experiencing delays in both consultation and service," Dr. Joseph W. St. Geme, physician-in-chief and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia said in a statement. "As a result of this important initiative, children in rural communities will benefit from medical consultations provided directly, securely and effectively to their IHS health care providers by experts in the field of pediatric medicine." More

Chronic disease prevention and management company Solera Health has partnered with Gain Life, a behavior change company, to develop a diabetes prevention program. Gain Life offers 52-week, gender-specific programs to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, focusing on the metabolic differences and personal preferences unique to men and women. Solera will integrate Gain Life’s diabetes prevention program into its network of partners who work to manage and prevent chronic disease. More

BioTime subsidiary LifeMap Solutions, which makes software and app development platforms for digital health companies, has partnered with data company Medidata to take part in the company’s symposium that works to drive digital health innovation. Through Medidata’s AppConnect Partner Program, LifeMap will leverage its existing patient engagement tools to build mobile apps and remote patient-research programs for clinical trials, the data from which will be uploaded directly to the Medidata Clinical Cloud.  More

Consumer engagement software company PegaSystems has teamed up with MCG Health, which provides evidence-based care guidelines, to combine forces in the Pega Care Management Application. The app will put patient records in one unified, collaborative platform, allowing each member of the care team to access information and manage patient care.

“For the healthcare industry, keeping up with the latest research and care guidelines can be a challenge but also critical to ensure the highest quality outcomes for patients,” Pegasystem’s vice president and business line leader for healthcare Susan Taylor said in a statement. “This partnership with MCG represents a milestone for payers and providers. The ability to have instant access to industry-leading guidelines while maintaining a patient’s data in one application will transform the way they interact with and care for patients.”  More

MedCart Specialty Pharmacy has joined forces with health messaging company CareSpeak Communications to launch an interactive text messaging program to improve medication adherence for patients with chronic conditions. MedCart customers will be offered the CareSpeak digital platform, which will provide personalized medication text reminders and also allow them to request refills or ask questions to pharmacists. More