Lockheed Martin: Defense heavyweight now health care technology innovator?

What do a defense contractor, a Silicon Valley giant, and a Maryland community college have in common? It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but as implausible as it seems, they now have quite a lot in common, thanks to a new collaboration that brings the unlikely parties together to work on solving health information technology (IT) issues. Lockheed Martin Corporation, a global security and aerospace company, is jumping into the health information technology field, as it announced the launch of the Healthcare Technology Alliance, which it advertises as a combination of the expertise of leading health IT providers, medical technology companies, and academic institutions working for the advancement of public health.

Healthcare Technology Alliance

The founding members of the Alliance include Cisco Systems, Inc., Cloudera, Inc., Illumina, Inc., Intel Corporation, and Montgomery College. According to the announcement, the members of the Alliance will collaborate on finding technology solutions to improve care by working to secure patient medical information, advancing genomic research, and applying “big data solutions.” The Alliance’s website asks the public to imagine being able to access electronic medical records on any device, or imagine using patient genetic information to direct health care decisions for the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of diseases.

Security

The Alliance points out that more than 50 percent of identity theft occurs within the health care sector. Therefore, according to Lockheed, a focus must be placed on securing data with approaches that are efficient and affordable. Additionally, the partnership, which is formed between the industry, academia, and the government, claims that it will “revolutionize the way the health care industry securely computes, catalogs and stores data,” all with the aim of providing patients better access to care. Horace Blackman, Vice President of Health & Life Sciences at Lockheed said in a released statement, “Federal health IT is a dynamic and growing sector.” He further stated, “Through collaboration between health IT industry and academic partners, this team will develop and refine technologies that will help guide decisions for care, diagnosis and treatment of disease while protecting critical health information.”

Internet of Things solutions

Big Cloud Analytics (BCA) also announced that it will be assisting Intel with its role in the Alliance by creating “Internet of Things (IoT) solutions” for the Alliance. According to Forbes, the IoT is basically the idea that anything with an on and off device will be connected to the Internet and to each other. BCA reportedly will co-develop solutions that will incorporate sensors and wearable devices and other data streams to assist in the collection of patient data to better understand individual and public health.

Genomics program

Lockheed is not merely dipping a toe into the health care sector; it is diving in head first. The company previously announced its partnership with Illumina to develop solutions for national genomics programs. According to Lockheed, the collaboration will potentially create “the most advanced tools and best practices in large-scale genomic solutions.” In other words, Lockheed is hoping that genomics, or the study of a person’s DNA, can be used determine a personalized health care plan by determining a person’s health risks such as susceptibility to disease or drug reactions, which can result in better, more proactive approaches to health care. Additionally, according to Lockheed, the aggregation of genomic data for a large population can help public health officials in addressing health care issues while lowering costs and improving quality of lives. The Washington Post is reporting that, in addition to the Illumina partnership, Lockheed previously purchased smaller more specialized companies last year in the attempt to grow in the federal health IT market.