IoT and Medicine: IBM and Pfizer to Monitor Parkinson’s Patients


IoT sensors and devices will monitor patients remotely to assist in drug development and clinical therapies.

Pfizer Inc and IBM announced on April 7 that they are joining forces for an IoT-enhanced research project with the goal of developing remote patient monitoring solutions for Parkinson’s disease. The data generated will be used to assist and improve drug development and clinical therapies.

 “With the proliferation of digital health information, one area that remains elusive is the collection of real-time physiological data to support disease management,” Arvind Krishna, director of IBM Research, said in the announcement. “We are testing ways to create a system that passively collects data with little to no burden on the patient, and to provide doctors and researchers with objective, real-time insights that we believe could fundamentally change the way patients are monitored and treated.”

IoT-connected sensors will collect data to measure a variety of health indicators including motor function, cognition, sleep and daily functions like grooming and eating, Pfizer stated. That data will be transmitted to researchers and real-time analytics will be used to provide insights to help improve care.

“For example, what if motion sensors placed in the home could monitor changes in how a patient moves or the time it takes to tie a shoe? What if common wearables could track fine motor signals and spot tremors or changes in speech?” asked Dr. Peter Bergethon, head of quantitative medicine at Pfizer, in a blog post about the project, “What if data from these technologies could enable clinicians and researchers to track the progression of a disease and the magnitude of symptoms, all without changing a patient’s daily lifestyle or routine? That’s what we are trying to find out.”

The company stated that according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, roughly 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year and seven to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s. Both companies say they expect the project to move quickly into initial clinical testing and will be creating an external advisory board of patient groups, advocacy organizations, clinicians, and neuroscientists for guidance.

Sue Walsh

About Sue Walsh

Sue Walsh is News Writer for RTInsights, and a freelance writer and social media manager living in New York City. Her specialties include tech, security and e-commerce. You can follow her on Twitter at @girlfridaygeek.

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