It’s been a busy few weeks for IBM’s Watson Health as it announced a partnership with Pfizer for Parkinson’s research, plans to launch a European Center of Excellence, and the acquisition of Truven Health Analytics. As the first IBM business unit to focus on a single industry, IBM Watson Health looks to finish strong in its first year to establish itself as a wise investment strategy.

Early on, the Watson unit saw the opportunity in healthcare, with early high profile partnerships, including Baylor College of Medicine and Apple. To better focus on this opportunity, IBM Watson Health was formed in April, 2015 to leverage the cognitive capabilities of Watson and cloud computing in a healthcare setting. The unit’s goal is to improve data utilization in order to facilitate medical decision-making for activities such as disease diagnosis and screening, treatment recommendations and research areas of focus.

Under Watson Health, IBM has established collaborations with both leading health manufacturers, such as Medtronic, and leading healthcare provider institutions, such as Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The unit’s partnership with Pfizer centers on helping to create a patient monitoring system for Parkinson’s disease patients.

In addition to its partnership strategy, IBM Watson Health is strengthening its offerings through acquisitions and internal growth initiatives. The unit completed its acquisition of Truven and plans to set up a Center of Excellence in Italy demonstrate efforts to broaden their reach in the long-term. The acquisition of Truven, a cloud-based healthcare data company, for $2.6B brings clinical data and a wide customer base while the Center of Excellence will provide Watson Health with a steady stream of projects to refine its machine-learning capabilities.

IBM Watson Health’s recent activity highlights the growing importance of data analysis in improving patient care, especially as new technologies like next generation sequencing (NGS) produce more data per patient than ever before. Several institutions have partnered with bioinformatics and data analysis companies to maximize their skills including the Seven Bridges, the Broad Institute and Verily. With the several companies pushing to maximizing clinical data, it appears to be an attractive market opportunity for companies that will only benefit patients in the long run.

To learn more about NGS, molecular diagnostics or companion diagnostics, look at our market reports.

Disclaimer: Some of the companies listed above may be DeciBio clients or customers.

Author: Melissa Campos, Associate at DeciBio Consulting, LLC

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