The American Diabetes Association (Association) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) Watson Health today announced a long-term collaboration to bring together the cognitive computing power of Watson and the Association’s vast repository of clinical and research data. The organizations aim to build a first-of-its-kind diabetes advisor for patients and caregivers. As part of their commitment to the diabetes community, the organizations also announced a challenge to app developers to propose cognitive innovations that may transform how diabetes is prevented and managed. The news was announced at the Association’s 76th Scientific Sessions.
The goal of the collaboration is to develop Watson-powered solutions that enable the diabetes community to optimize clinical, research and lifestyle decisions, and address important issues that influence health outcomes, such as social determinants of health.
Diabetes is one of the most common and costly chronic diseases plaguing communities and straining health systems around the world. With 1.4 million people diagnosed in the U.S. each year, there are now more than 29 million Americans living with diabetes and another 86 million with prediabetes. Globally, there are 415 million people living with diabetes. Poorly managed diabetes can lead to serious health complications such as blindness, kidney failure, hypertension, amputation and hypoglycemia. Diabetes and prediabetes cost $322 billion per year, and 1 in 5 healthcare dollars is spent caring for people with diabetes.
“For more than 75 years, the American Diabetes Association has promoted a data-driven approach to clinical care and disease management because we know it can significantly improve peoples’ lives while also reducing health care costs,” said Kevin L. Hagan, CEO of the Association. “By combining the Association’s enormous body of valuable data with Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities, we will empower people living with diabetes, clinicians and researchers with better data and better insights, which ultimately can lead to better outcomes.”
As part of the collaboration, Watson will be trained to understand diabetes data with the goal to identify potential risk factors and create evidence-based, confidence-ranked recommendations for a range of health decisions. Watson will ingest the Association’s rich repository of clinical and scientific data, which includes 66 years of data, as well as the Association’s aggregated data about self-management, support groups, health/wellness activities and diabetes education. New offerings developed through the collaboration may also draw on data and insights from IBM’s Watson Health Cloud and will leverage Watson’s capabilities, such as deep Q&A, natural language processing, engagement advisor, similarity analytics, predictive analytics and personality insights.
For providers, the team plans to create a cognitive diabetes database to help inform treatment decisions and care management approaches. Healthcare providers could tap into personality insights through Watson to tailor their treatment approaches to the needs of an individual. Additionally, providers could identify and address potential risk factors for their patients by comparing an individual to population-level trends of patients with similar characteristics.
For researchers, the Association and IBM Watson Health plan to create a cloud-based data and insights service that enables scientists to apply Watson to the Association’s body of clinical and scientific evidence to help them find hidden patterns, potentially identifying the next frontiers for therapeutic discovery. This tool could accelerate significant breakthroughs in some of the most pressing areas of diabetes research.
For patients and caregivers, cognitive tools for people living with diabetes or prediabetes could be developed to provide tailored information and insights, reflecting individual factors such as demographics, disease stage, treatment regimen and behaviors. For example, the collaboration could lead to the creation of a dynamic mobile app that is integrated with Watson Care Manager and may become increasingly personalized as individuals engage with it, effectively getting “smarter” each time it is used.
A Cognitive Challenge for Diabetes Innovators
To kick-start the development of cognitive apps to support people living with diabetes, the Association and IBM are creating a Watson-based innovation challenge for developers. Developers are invited to propose cognitive apps that leverage the Association’s rich data repository and Watson insights. The purpose of the challenge is to advance the use of technology to promote health and to ultimately help improve the lives of those living with diabetes or prediabetes. The challenge will be open for submissions this summer, and developers can visit www.watsonhealth.ibm.com/challengediabetes to learn more.
“As the science of diabetes advances, big data presents a tremendous opportunity in diabetes care and prevention. But patients, caregivers and healthcare providers need access to cognitive tools that can help them translate that big data into action, and Watson can offer access to timely, personalized insights,” said Kyu Rhee, MD, MPP, chief health officer, IBM Watson Health. “The American Diabetes Association is the ideal partner for IBM to enable this type of developer challenge, given the Association’s role establishing clinical care standards worldwide. Our collective goal is to provide the motivation, the tools and the insights to transform clinical care, self-management and accelerate scientific breakthroughs.”
About the American Diabetes Association
The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to Stop Diabetes® and its deadly consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Since 1940, our mission has been to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. For more information, please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383) or visit diabetes.org. Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish. Join the Scientific Sessions conversation using #2016ADA and follow us year-round on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About IBM Watson Health
Watson is the first commercially available cognitive computing capability representing a new era in computing. The system, delivered through the cloud, analyzes high volumes of data, understands complex questions posed in natural language, and proposes evidence-based answers. Watson continuously learns, gaining in value and knowledge over time, from previous interactions. In April 2015, the company launched IBM Watson Health and the Watson Health Cloud platform. The new unit will help improve the ability of doctors, researchers and insurers to innovate by surfacing insights from the massive amount of personal health data being created and shared daily. The Watson Health Cloud allows this information to be de-identified, shared and combined with a dynamic and constantly growing aggregated view of clinical, research and social health data. For more information on IBM Watson, visit: ibm.com/watson. For more information on IBM Watson Health, visit: ibm.com/watsonhealth.
Check out the IBM Watson press kit. Join the conversation at #ibmwatson and #watsonhealth. Follow Watson on Facebook and see Watson on YouTube and Flickr.
 American Diabetes Association http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/
 International Diabetes Federation, 2015 Diabetes Atlas http://www.diabetesatlas.org/
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html
 American Diabetes Association http://www.diabetes.org/advocacy/news-events/cost-of-diabetes.html