Company will develop solutions for new reimbursement models, evidence-based care, and supporting health service delivery needs

Earlier this fall, IBM Corporation (NYSE: IBM) announced plans to invest $100 million specifically to advance IBM capabilities in three key areas of healthcare informatics. That seemed like a big deal that might affect clinical pathology, since IBM is one of the information technology (IT) giants in the United States.

However, Dark Daily editors made a surprising discovery as they researched the news of IBM’s new $100 million healthcare IT investment initiative. IBM has a habit of making $100 million investments in recent years! It has learned that dropping a press release that announces a $100 million IT investment initiative generates plenty of press coverage.

IBM announced a $100 million deal to help develop a smart-grid network.

IBM announced a $100 million deal to help develop a smart-grid network

In fact, on October 8, 2010—just weeks after its $100 million healthcare IT press release, IBM announced a $100 million deal to help develop a smart-grid network in Australia. Similarly in 2009, IBM announced it was investing $100 million to advance cell phone technology. In 2005, IBM’s $100 million investment story was its plans to spend that amount of money with Beijing, China-based InnovativeJam to develop 10 new business technologies. And, the list goes on.

So, on the one hand, IBM’s announced intention to invest (you guessed it!) $100 million to advance health information technology (HIT) appears to be one more shrewd bet by a company that habitually stakes a claim in different areas of information technology. On the other hand, it does tend to validate the belief that HIT is worth a major investment. So, how does this affect the daily lives and activities of clinical laboratory managers and pathologists?

IBM’s $100 million investment plan provides a useful window for clinical laboratory administrators to understand how major healthcare information technology companies see the future. In its press release, IBM states it will “focus its research on three main areas:

  • “Evidence generation, which uses scientific methods to utilize health data to help develop effective treatment methodologies, and then deliver it in a context-dependant and personalized way at the point of care;
  • “Improving service quality through simplifying the healthcare delivery process; and,
  • “New incentives and models to shift the healthcare system to one that rewards based on patient outcomes rather than only treatment and volume of care.”

Key aspects of IBM’s HIT investment strategy will incorporate cloud computing and analytics, along with emerging technologies, such as nanomedicine and computational biology. IBM’s interest in improving the healthcare reimbursement payment system and giving physicians real-time, evidence-based medicine support via information technology points to areas where IBM’s business interests may intersect with clinical laboratory testing.

This particular $100 million investment by IBM is market evidence that the nation’s major information technology companies consider healthcare to be a major market opportunity. Moreover, it is certain recognition that, as the nation’s thousands of hospitals and hundreds of thousands of physicians adopt electronic medical record (EMR) systems, that demand for effective informatics solutions will skyrocket in coming years.

Thus, pathologists and clinical laboratory administrators can consider that IBM is “following the money” in healthcare via this particular $100 million dollar investment initiative.

Related Information:

IBM Invests $100 Million in Health Care IT: eWeek article

IBM Announces $100 Million Health IT Program: InformationWeek article

IBM Press Release

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