Most health care systems worldwide are "sick care" models, whose primary objective is to fund treatment when people have health problems, with little emphasis on disease prevention and wellness. Taiwan is known for its technology-driven modernized health care system. However, the aging population in Taiwan and the challenges associated with chronic disease management provide an opportunity for Taiwan to view preventive care as an integral component of the health care system.
The IBM collaboratory - where IBM Researchers co-locate with a university, government, or commercial partner and share skills, assets, and resources to achieve a common research goal - will bring together expertise in the areas of services, privacy, data management, analytics, and health care device management. Initially, the research will focus on projects that demonstrate and optimize the benefits of connected wellness services in prevention, early diagnosis and management of chronic disease. The project will help not only the citizens of Taiwan, but also create new technologies and business processes that can be used to help keep people healthier worldwide.
Cloud computing will serve as the foundation for much of the collaboratory's work in areas such as sensor data collection, record sharing, analysis, and diagnostics. The Cloud computing model is suited to health care applications due to the volume of dynamic and diverse sources of information. Cloud computing can help Taiwan clinicians and hospitals co-ordinate and exchange information more efficiently. These flexible networks will be scalable in integrating and sharing services and data, which will help reduce costs.
Analytics will be another main focus of the collaboratory. The shift to wellness-centric health care and the increase in available data will provide new opportunities to develop analytical services that can be used to derive actionable insights for health care providers, patients and payers. The researchers will use advanced algorithms to understand the effectiveness of treatment options, improve process efficiencies, and increase the ability to pro-actively manage human health. Such analytical services will leverage data from various sources, including electronic health records, prescription data, and hospital systems, while maintaining the privacy of individuals.
The IBM collaboratory in Taiwan will be fully operational in 2010 and established jointly by the Ministry of Economic Affairs Taiwan and IBM. The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and the Institute for Information Industry (III) will join the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and IBM in the partnership. The collaboratory will work also with researchers from several leading institutions in Taiwan including National Taiwan University, National Tsing Hua University, National Chiao Tung University and Chang Gung University.
"Taiwan has made important social transformations 14 years ago with the inception of the national health care programme for all citizens. Now, it is time to infuse new technology perspectives to this transformation to further uncover new opportunities, priorities, and transformation incentives not just as a local service but an ecosystem of services that may become a differentiating industry from Taiwan", stated Jin-Fu Chang, Minister of Science and Technology Advisory Group of Executive Yuan.
"This collaborative research programme is aimed at helping Taiwan's services to become more intelligent", stated Dr. Jung-Chiou, Hwang, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. "Taiwan has a highly-regarded health care system with established hospitals and provider networks. By collaborating with IBM Research, Taiwan can leverage this system to create new services and technologies that can be exported worldwide. Taiwan is excited by the prospect of working with IBM on this transformative research agenda."
"The goal is to create a research environment that leverages advancements in services science, analytics and Cloud computing to create innovation that matters for Taiwan, IBM and the world", stated Robert Morris, vice president, IBM Research. "Quite simply, this collaboratory will focus on improving the quality and longevity of life."
IBM's deep expertise in managing, storing and analyzing data; its broad hardware and software know-how; its ability to develop and manage software as a service; leadership in service transformation; and its pre-eminent position in Cloud computing gives it the experience and thought leadership to help Taiwan define, develop and manage a Cloud computing infrastructure that directly addresses critical health care needs. The expertise gained from this research will also facilitate rapid deployment of similar intelligent infrastructures in other areas, including energy management and government services.
More IBM news is available in the VMW December 2009 article IBM launches Health Analytics Center.