Georgia Tech, IBM partner for 'One Million Healthy Children'

IBM and the Georgia Institute of Technology have announced a new research initiative that will apply advanced systems modeling and large-scale data analytics capabilities to integrate traditionally disparate data that affects health.

The project, which includes partnerships with Emory University, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Georgia Cancer Coalition and the Georgia Department of Community Health, will focus initially on children suffering from diabetes, asthma and autism.

[See also: Atlanta colleges land $1.65 million to create health IT jobs.]

Officials say the project, called One Million Healthy Children (1MHC), focuses on two specific challenges faced by healthcare providers.

First, the current fee-for-service model in the United States means payment for action rather than for outcome, regardless of treatment effectiveness.

Second, health is affected by myriad factors – not just those that are apparent in lab tests. Factors like transportation, health services, socio-economic status, food resources, educational attainment and many others all impact a child's health, but doctors do not have access to this information.

1MHC will adopt techniques from IBM's services research portfolio to model economic, incentive, treatment, disease and other factors that affect healthcare decisions to find practices and policies that will shift the focus of pediatric care from disease treatment to long-term wellness and disease prevention.

Additionally, IBM and Georgia Tech's Institute for People and Technology and Tennenbaum Institute, will work together to integrate a variety of data sources to advance model development and analysis of the complex system of children's health. The aim of this collaboration is to develop solutions for improved pediatric care.

[See also: IBM unveils new Watson-based analytics capabilities.]

"We are working to transform healthcare delivery systems by creating proactive and easily accessible health and wellness technologies," said Stephen E. Cross, executive vice president for research at Georgia Tech. "This project underscores the power partnerships can have in using computing and engineering principles to positively impact children's health."

"The ability to make sense of mountains of data with IBM's analytics capabilities is the perfect pairing to our modeling expertise," said Tennenbaum Institute Executive Director William B. Rouse, co-chair of the National Academies Healthy America Initiative and member of the National Academy of Engineering. "By adding deep analytics to the formula, we hope to systematically improve healthcare delivery, which will allow us to understand the strategic, operational and economic trade-offs of different business models in the healthcare system."