IBM launched the Smarter Solutions initiative as a way to introduce technological innovation in Canada's healthcare system by accessing healthcare data from participating hospitals. This information was then used to create computerized systems to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare providers. Canada's healthcare organizations have entered into a contract with IBM to deliver this service, so unlike many other data collaboratives these data sharing processes are part of a commercial relationship.
IBM's Smarter Solutions attempts to put in place what is called "cognitive computing"—systems that try to understand, reason and learn while interacting with humans. They are designed to ingest vast quantities of structured and unstructured information—from numbers and text to audio, video, images, sensory and other data, and to help physicians and researchers identify new patterns and insights to accelerate discoveries, treatments and insights.
New tools to analyze and glean the relevant information from this ocean of data are helping practitioners, researchers and caregivers discover new healthcare solutions and apply them in innovative ways. Cognitive-based systems that build knowledge and learn can bridge the gap between vast amounts of data available and its relationship to the questions that need to be asked.