IBM Watson partnership with Medtronic to fight diabetes – Sugar iQ

Diabetes it is a disease where the body cannot produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or has an inadequate sensitivity of cells to the action of insulin (type 2 diabetes). Another type of diabetes is the gestational diabetes that occurs during the pregnancy where hormones from placenta block the action of the mother´s insulin (insulin resistance) making hard for mother´s body to use insulin. Insulin, produced in pancreas, is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose, the main source of energy for our bodies, in the blood. If a person has diabetes, it means that has too much glucose in the blood, not converting glucose in energy what can cause serious health problems, in the worst cases can cause blindness, limb amputations, stroke, heart attack or kidney failure and dialysis.

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IBM is doing several partnerships with companies, for example with Apple, storing and analyzing ResearchKit (open source framework introduced by Apple that allows researchers and developers to create powerful apps for medical research) data; Johnson & Johnson (help develop personalized patient engagement and coaching solutions that span consumer wellness); Under Armor: providing a “Cognitive Training System” that give essential information to athletes about sleep, fitness, activities and nutrition; Medtronic, the partnership that we are going to approach in this article. The incredible capabilities of Watson allow to help some of the people suffering of diabetes. In 1980, there were about 108 million of people with diabetes in the world. In 2014, this number became higher, 422 million, a huge increase. Furthermore, the incidence of diabetes in children (over 18 years) has risen from 4.7%, in 1980, to 8.5% in 2014.

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What Watson is doing is crutching the huge amount of data collected by Medtronic – 125 million patient days of anonymous data from insulin pumps and glucose monitors, in other words, the equivalent to 20% of the books in the Library of Congress – and generate knowledge from all of this data what allows the discover of new clues that can help to find a better treatment for diabetes, predict hypoglycemic episodes in diabetic patients approximately three hours in advance what allows to prevent devastating consequences always with one thing that characterize Watson, the personalization of the treatment due to all the capabilities of data analysis from other similar patients and adapting this treatment to the person´s lifestyle. Watson and Medtronic created, in 2016, the Sugar iQ app  that help diabetics give them detailed 24 hours statistics with information about the levels of glucose, find hidden patterns in diabetes data what allows, for example, to show how glucose levels are affected by specific food and then people can make better decisions at mealtime.

In conclusion, the improvement of the daily life of diabetics is one more area where Watson is helping and being trained with all this new data from Medtronic showing that partnerships like that are essential and bring benefits for the health of many people.


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