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August 3, 2015

Health Alliance Looks to Leverage, Secure Patient Data

George Leopold

The health care IT sector is attracting major players as companies chasing lucrative government contracts form partnerships that combine big data technologies to improve public health while harnessing advances in genomic research and securing patient medical information.

In the latest example, military contracting giant Lockheed Martin has formed a Healthcare Technology Alliance that would among other things leverage big data analytics while at the same time securing patient medical information. Lockheed Martin has been steadily shifting to new IT markets as military spending slows, refocusing on areas like digital health care for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Members of the Lockheed Martin alliance include network equipment maker Cisco Systems, big data storage company Cloudera and chipmaker Intel Corp. Other members are Montgomery College of suburban Maryland (where Lockheed Martin is based) and San Diego-based Illumina, which develops genomic sequencing tools.

Cloudera, which is working with government agencies like the CIA to develop enterprise data hubs that incorporate analytics along with security into a single framework, stressed the growing use of Apache Hadoop by health care providers.

“Healthcare companies already rely on Hadoop to improve patient outcomes and reduce the cost of care,” Mercedes Westcott, Cloudera’s vice president of public sector, noted in a statement announcing the health care initiative. The “alliance allows Cloudera to collaborate on innovative big data approaches to a myriad of health issues.”

Alliance members said they would use a proof-of-concept approach to demonstrate new health care capabilities ranging from big data analytics and tele-health to genomics and patient data security.

In one such demonstration, Intel is working with Altanta-based Big Cloud Analytics on an Internet of Things (IoT) health care project. Big Cloud Analytics and Intel said they would co-develop a real-time health analytics platform that incorporates sensors and wearable devices with other data sets to make sense of individual patient data.

Big Cloud Analytics said its “customer intelligence engine” would run on Intel’s IoT gateway. The partners “are using a combination of proven analytic methods with new technology and data to support disruptive use cases,” Big Cloud Analytics CEO J. Patrick Bewley noted in a statement.

The health care alliance will seek to “harness the power of massive amounts of data to make treatment decisions and define care plans for individuals in order to achieve the ultimate goal of making healthcare more personal,” added Jennifer Esposito, Intel’s general manager of health and life sciences marketing.

Lockheed Martin and Illumina announced a partnership in January to collaborate on scalable genomics platforms that would among other things focus on supporting federal precision medicine initiatives.

In announcing the health care alliance, Horace Blackman, Lockheed Martin’s vice president of health and life sciences, noted that federal health IT is a growing sector. “This team will develop and refine technologies that will help guide decisions for care, diagnosis and treatment of disease while protecting critical health information,” Blackman added.

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