Healthcare IT reinforces its role in IBM’s services revival

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John Caucis, senior analyst at TBR, says the role of HITS in IBM’s services turnaround is escalating.

Services opportunities in big data, mobility and analytics increasingly flow from IBM’s efforts to scale and globalize Watson Health and merge recently acquired capabilities with Watson artificial intelligence to support a steady stream of new industry-focused solutions. As a result, TBR estimates IBM’s HITS revenue expanded 5.8 percent year-to-year in 3Q16, its third consecutive quarter of expansion. Growth in HITS revenue also helped support a return to growth for IBM’s services business, which recorded year-to-year top-line expansion of 1.4 percent in 3Q16, its first quarter of growth after 17 straight quarters of year-to-year contractions.

IBM delivers a wide range of HITS capabilities to scale globally; striking a balance against client demand for discrete point solutions is the challenge

Healthcare providers have clearly indicated their preference for a piecemeal approach to new IT investments, favoring point solutions over enterprisewide IT disruptions. To attack these various entry loci and capture the near-term opportunities via Watson Health, IBM employs a versatile “make-buy-ally” approach to enhancing Watson to address more discrete provider needs. To this end, IBM Watson allied with behavioral health specialist ODH, Inc. in 3Q16 to launch Mentrics, a population health management platform for behavioral health organizations.

IBM opened new facilities and CoEs across the Nordics, the Middle East, Africa and APAC to accelerate global adoption of its HITS solutions

IBM will open a Watson Health Center of Excellence (CoE) in Finland, along with a Nordic Healthcare Competence Center and a National Imaging CoE. These new facilities are expected to employ 150 people. IBM Research also launched a second facility in Africa in 3Q16 and announced the new research location will work on a number of projects, including some related to data-driven healthcare.

IBM opened a new Industry and Innovation Center in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in August focused on cloud and cognitive technologies across several industries, including healthcare. In Singapore, IBM launched its first IBM Center for Blockchain Innovation. While the facility will initially focus on the finance sector, researchers will also explore the application of blockchain technologies in healthcare and other sectors.