IBM Answers Our Questions about Making the Move to Hamilton

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What is IBM’s role in healthcare technology?
IBM has established a major focus on healthcare, leveraging our investments in the capabilities that allow collaboration and integration of the healthcare system. The thoughtful application of technologies such as cognitive computing will help healthcare providers implement practical innovative solutions that drive improved outcomes for patients and eliminate duplicate costs across the health ecosystem.
In fact, we’ve witnessed a convergence of market forces in healthcare that today have positioned the industry for massive transformation.
We live in a connected, social and digital society that is creating and consuming massive volumes of diverse data — from videos, images and content shared over social networks to wearable devices and sensors that monitor everything from quality of sleep to the steps we’ve taken in a given day. The amount of health-related data produced today is incredibly valuable but difficult to manage for both medical professionals and consumers. Medical information is doubling every 2-5 years, and the average person is expected to generate more than one million gigabytes of health-related data in their lifetime.
This is the dawn of a new era of computing, where cognitive computing systems like Watson can consume these data streams to understand complex questions posed in natural language, propose evidence-based answers, predict outcomes, and continuously learn over time with each user interaction.
This calls for new efforts to curb health spending by reshaping business models and breaking down the traditional barriers between data, people and communities of care — from doctors to clinical researchers to patients to insurance providers — to take a much more holistic, collaborative and data-driven approach to improve patient diagnosis, treatment plans and outcomes.
Consumers are driving this change in much the way they’ve transformed how companies engage with them through personalized products, services or promotions. They want their healthcare providers to be connected, to understand them as a unique individual, to provide a more complete view of their health (in real-time) and to empower them to be directly involved.
What is the purpose of the new office in Hamilton?
This is not an office: it is much more than that. The new collaboration centre that will open this fall on the 24th Floor of the Stelco Tower at 100 King St. W. will be equipped with the industry leading software technology and tools to support the ‘Ideation, Prototyping, Testing and Evaluation’ of advanced healthcare solutions. Access to tools such as Cognitive Computing, Advanced Analytics, Mobile solutions and Cloud Computing will support the acceleration of the innovation process.
The Collaborative Innovation Centre will position HHS and Hamilton as a hub for healthcare innovation in Canada, thereby bringing new people into the economy and attracting other organizations to bring their ideas and solutions to the table, for deployment across our healthcare system.
The innovation centre will support innovation efforts across HHS, local businesses and industry entrepreneurs. Innovation will be driven by the priorities of the Hamilton healthcare ecosystem, including HHS’ needs, closely aligned with the transformation of healthcare services to the benefit of the residents of Hamilton and surrounding communities.
This location is both a physical facility and virtual connection point between subject-matter experts, facilitating one-on-one and group exchanges of information and supporting interactive collaboration and sharing across the members of the healthcare ecosystem.
At a high-level, its founding objectives include:
Enable collaboration that drives research and innovation in support of healthcare transformation among research, clinicians, and industry;Create a ‘healthcare marketplace’, by connecting and integrating the entire Hamilton healthcare ecosystem via an innovative platform;Collaborate with small companies (start-ups and scale-ups) who are working to bring solutions to the healthcare industry. We will help independent companies accelerate their development cycle and bringing their products to market faster;Provide practitioners / innovators / researchers with support and access to this ‘healthcare marketplace’ and to a unique suite of computing infrastructure and resources to accelerate scope and real-world outcomes;Accelerate utility, application and commercialization of “made in Hamilton” new products and services, actually implemented and driving value within the Hamilton healthcare ecosystem;Transform the economy in Hamilton towards a healthcare and healthcare information technology-based economy, closely connected with Toronto and other Ontario centres;Support and facilitate Small & Medium Enterprises to innovate, develop and commercialize solutions for the healthcare marketplace, by giving them access to technology and expertise they otherwise would lack, to accelerate their path to innovation; andSupport the development of “made in Canada” innovation we can export to the world
What is the relationship with IBM and Hamilton Health Sciences, Mohawk and McMaster University?
IBM and Hamilton Health Sciences have joined forces to jointly create this collaboration centre. Hamilton Health Sciences is a strong partner for IBM, as it is Ontario’s most comprehensive hospital system, covering the entire human lifespan from pre-birth to end-of-life. With its cadre of more than 1,500 principal investigators and research staff, HHS provides practical industry expertise and a “real-world” test environment.
They’re well-positioned to do that. HHS’ world-class intellectual and institutional assets comprise a research empire that has earned HHS high ranks amongst top research hospitals in the world.
This impressive health and research infrastructure provides an optimal environment for collaboration and innovation to take place. HHS is home to some of Canada’s top healthcare talent and enjoys a proven track record of innovation and leadership in the realm of healthcare technology.
IBM is contributing access to an array of its Watson cognitive and analytics software, expertise in cloud computing and high-performance computing infrastructure, and a network of global collaborators. Innovators from Mohawk and McMaster University will be among the research scientists, industry and academic partners, start-ups and scale-ups who access the collaboration centre and tap into the IBM technologies they otherwise would not have access to, so they can advance the pursuit of solutions to some of our most pressing healthcare challenges.
What attracted IBM to Hamilton and why downtown Hamilton?
IBM seeks to partner with leaders in the healthcare industry such as HHS to benefit from their expertise and insights into the needs of the health system and opportunities for innovation. HHS is one of Canada’s top two research hospitals and is currently conducting research in over 1,500 centres across 86 countries world-wide. HHS attracts more private sector investment in health research than any other Canadian hospital. Last year, those investments totaled over $300 million. The City of Hamilton is also among the top cities in Canada for health research innovation.
What role does Healthcare serve as an economic boost to Hamilton?
Already, HHS is Hamilton’s largest employer and the province’s largest hospital workforce with more than 15,000 staff, physicians and volunteers.
The vision for this initiative is to position HHS and Hamilton as a hub for healthcare innovation in Canada, bring new people into the economy and help progress the legacy of Hamilton from “Steeltown” to “Knowledge Worker Hub.” By collaborating with Hamilton Health Sciences, we can foster discovery, accelerate commercialization and drive better healthcare outcomes that put Hamilton-grown, Canadian-grown, R&D innovation on the world stage.
How many staff – new hires, transplants, etc?
In the new Hamilton location, both IBM and HHS will be allocating subject matter expertise to staff each project as the projects are defined, and this level of staffing will vary depending on the scope and complexity of each project. It’s important to note this facility is only ‘one’ piece of IBM’s innovation initiative. The virtual collaboration is much broader, across an unlimited number of participants. The physical facility, for face-to-face collaboration, is being designed to initially accommodate 50 participants. Staffing is depended on the needs of the project, which vary. Until those are defined, we can’t speculate. Our commitment to the project is to execute the tasks and goals we have in place, and we will bring whatever resources we can bring, to achieve that.

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