IBM, Pfizer partner on experimental Internet of Things study for Parkinson's Disease care

The collaboration will develop remote monitoring technology to track health in real time.
By Jessica Davis
10:45 AM

IBM Research Data Scientist Eric Clark shows off wearable technology that could help monitor and analyze biological data from patients with Parkinson’s disease. (Feature Photo Service for IBM)

Pfizer and IBM are teaming up to combat Parkinson's Disease with analytics and the IoT, the companies announced Thursday.

The study will span three years and pull data from wearables to monitor real-time patient data with the hope of advancing the way neurological diseases are diagnosed and treated. The companies also hope the study will speed up clinical trials to introduce new, effective drugs to the market, officials say.

"We have an opportunity to potentially redefine how we think about patient outcomes and 24/7 monitoring," said Mikael Dolsten, MD, president of Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development, in a statement.

Data will be drawn from a series of wearables, sensors and other mobile devices worn by the patient at all times, which measure a wide range of metrics like movement patterns, cognition, temperature, daily activities and sleep cycles. It will be sent through IBM Watson's learning algorithms to determine the symptoms that correlate to clinical endpoints.

[Also: Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft join forces with MIT and Harvard on cloud-based genome analysis toolkit]

IBM officials say this data will create a better picture of how neurological patients are doing on a daily basis. Additionally, the data can help analyze the frequency and severity of symptoms, which can be translated into treatments tailored to the patient.

"With the proliferation of digital health information, one area that remains elusive is the collection of real-time physiological data to support disease management," said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research, in a statement.

"We're testing ways to create a system that passively collects data with little to no burden on the patient and to provide doctors and researchers with objective, real-time insights that we believe could fundamentally change the way patients are monitored and treated," he added.

Officials project the trial will quickly move into clinical testing. They'll also create an advisory board of advocacy organizations, patient groups, clinicians and neuroscientists for oversight on the medical devices, technology, data management and research protocols, which will protect the needs of patients during the trial.

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