If anyone was wondering whether BlackBerry is seriously interested in stepping into the mHealth arena, a partnership with one of the more creative minds in healthcare should answer that question.
The Canadian mobile communications company, once left for dead in the smartphone market, has been on the upswing lately with new versions of its smartphone, which seek to bring the larger form factor and keyboard back in vogue. Now BlackBerry is partnering with NantHealth, the IT company launched by Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, to make the NantOmics Cancer genome Browser available on BlackBerry's new Passport smartphones.
Company officials say the project - the first in a series of joint healthcare offerings - aims to "place a super-computer in the palm of a doctor's hand." The browser is designed to give doctors an in-depth view of an individual patient's genomic alternations and point both doctor and patient toward relevant treatment options.
“The proprietary NantOmics Cancer Genome Browser enables clinicians to investigate a tumor genome from the full 3 billion bases down to the single-base level in real-time, thanks to the power of the NantOmics supercomputing infrastructure,” Soon-Shiong, NantHealth's founder and CEO, said in a press release. “This integrates with NantHealth’s treatment recommendation engine, Eviti, to personalize treatment protocols to individual patients based on their genomic signature.”
BlackBerry bought a stake in NantHealth last April, then followed that with an agreement with Axial Exchange to include Axial's patient engagement app in the BlackBerry World store for Z3, Z10 and Z30 models. In July, the company rolled out a new clinical operating system for medical devices through its QNX Software Systems subsidiary, which it had acquired in 2010.
“BlackBerry already powers many of the diagnostic machines (that) clinicians rely heavily upon so it makes sense to tie those devices directly to a BlackBerry smartphone,” Soon-Shiong added in the press release. “Now with BlackBerry’s partnership and through the power of the cloud and secure networks, the reality is we are now able to put dozens of supercomputers, through mobile devices, into doctor’s hands on a global basis. Our goal is to extend this unique capability from doctor to patient, thereby establishing patient empowered 21st Century health.”
NantHealth officials said the browser is fully encrypted and HIPAA-compliant, enabling clinicians to call up patient data in real-time. BlackBerry officials, meanwhile, said their recently launched BES12 cross-platform EMM solution will enable hospitals to securely deploy the application to clinicians across the enterprise. And the company has been touting the Passport, with its smaller, square screen and QWERTY keyboard, as an indeal form factor for business uses.
NantHealth will display the NantOmics Cancer Browser on BlackBerry Passport smartphones at the Consumer Electronic Show next month Las Vegas. The browser will then be preloaded on some Passport devices and made available for business customers in early 2015.