IBM invests in Modernizing Medicine

Modernizing Medicine co-founders Daniel Cane, right, and Dr. Michael Sherling in the company’s Boca Raton offices.
Modernizing Medicine co-founders Daniel Cane, right, and Dr. Michael Sherling in the company’s Boca Raton offices. Miami Herald photo

To help bring Watson’s cognitive computing power to the mass market, IBM on Thursday said announced an investment in Modernizing Medicine, which develops cloud-based, specialty-specific electronic medical records systems and other technologies that capture structured data, track outcomes and deliver clinical decision support.

The undisclosed investment caps $20 million in Series D funding secured by Boca Raton-based Modernizing Medicine, for a total of $49 million. The first $15 million in the latest round, which included Summit Partners and Pentland Group, has already been announced. This is the latest direct investment that IBM has made through its $100 million fund to seed innovations using Watson, the super computer that famously beat the humans in Jeopardy! in 2011.

Modernizing Medicine created the Electronic Medical Assistant, or EMA, a specialty-specific EMR system and provider of billing, revenue and inventory management solutions. Over 5,000 healthcare providers in the U.S., including 30 percent of dermatologists, use Modernizing Medicine's platform.

Cane called the IBM investment “an exciting milestone in our journey to deliver specialty-specific solutions to healthcare providers, including an entirely new class of cognitive-infused patient care apps powered by Watson," said Daniel Cane, co-founder and CEO of Modernizing Medicine, referring to its partnership with IBM that began last spring.

Modernizing Medicine will use the funding to expand in eight medical specialties, as well as enhance its products. This includes schEMA, the company's mobile app accessed through EMA that leverages the cognitive computing power of Watson to give physicians rapid clinical decision support at the point of care.

schEMA does this by analyzing massive amounts of published, peer-reviewed medical data and healthcare research. “Watson gets incredibly good at conversational style questions and answers. So when our dermatologist asked about a certain treatment, ...Watson can say here is the answer and here’s the journal it came from and here’s the citations and with one touch on the iPad, it can all be cited in the patient’s record,” said Cane in an interview last year.

To be first rolled out for the dermatology market and then for other specialties, schEMA is in beta testing now and will be available for general availability to EMA Dermatology clients later this year, Cane said Thursday.

The fast-growing Modernizing Medicine, based at the Research Park at FAU, now has 258 employees and plans to add about 100 new positions within the next 18 months, the company said.

"Modernizing Medicine is a great example of the breakthrough innovation we have seen from our partners who are building a new class of cognitive computing solutions powered by Watson," said Stephen Gold, vice president of IBM Watson, in a news release. "IBM's investment will help speed the introduction of their schEMA app and demonstrates how Watson can be used by medical professionals to improve how they practice evidence-based medicine."

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.