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IBM Watson, ADA Collaborate on Diabetes Data Analytics Project

June 13, 2016
by Heather Landi
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The American Diabetes Association and IBM Watson Health are teaming up to leverage the cognitive computing power of Watson and the association’s repository of diabetes clinical and research data to create digital tools for patients and providers.

The organizations aim to build a first-of-its-kind diabetes advisor for patients and caregivers, according to a press release.

As part of the collaboration, the organizations also announced a challenge to app developers to propose cognitive innovations that may transform how diabetes is prevented and managed.

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, both organizations said in the press release.

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, according to the association. Globally, there are 415 million people living with diabetes, based on statistics from the International Diabetes Federation. And, diabetes and prediabetes cost $322 billion per year, and one in five healthcare dollars is spent caring for people with diabetes, according to the association.

The project will entail researchers training Watson to understand diabetes data with the goal to identify potential risk factors and create evidence-based recommendations for a range of health decisions. The American Diabetes Association’s repository of data, going back 66 years, includes aggregated data about self-management, support groups, health/wellness activities and diabetes education.

For providers, the team plans to create a cognitive diabetes database to help inform treatment decisions and care management approaches. 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 collaboration plans 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.

The collaboration also could enable the development of cognitive tools for people living with diabetes or prediabetes to provide tailored information and insights, reflecting individual factors such as demographics, disease stage, treatment regimen and behaviors, according to the press release.

Through the innovation challenge, developers are invited to propose cognitive apps that leverage the association’s 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. For more information, developers can visit

“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,” Kevin Hagan, CEO of the American Diabetes Association, said in a statement. “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.”

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