Topcon selected to join IBM Watson Health global medical imaging collaborative

June 24, 2016

IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced on June 22nd that it is forming the Watson Health medical imaging collaborative, naming Japanese ophthalmic device manufacturer Topcon Corporation (TYO: 7732) among the sixteen partners, which includes academic medical centers, health systems, ambulatory radiology providers and imaging technology companies. 

As part of this global effort, foundational members will engage IBM’s “augmented intelligence” platform, called Watson, to extract insight from a variety of structured and unstructured data sources, such as medical imaging data, electronic health records, radiology and pathology reports, lab results, doctors’ progress notes, medical journals, clinical care guidelines and published outcomes studies. Watson, a cognitive computing system, understands natural language, reasons and learns over time. 

The inclusion of Topcon as one of the collaborating members is a testament to the company’s commitment to integrating medical devices, big data analytics and cognitive computing into its products and services. It will leverage Topcon’s large family of imaging devices to facilitate and optimize the Watson training process and accelerate the development of products and services that improve the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of eye disease, ultimately improving patient care. 

Topcon President and CEO Satoshi Hirano described the collaboration as “strategically aligned with our mid-term plan to drive strong revenue growth. It leverages our globally deployed network of diagnostic devices to create new services and products using the power of the Big Data Analytics and Cognitive Computing.” 

Topcon’s Director, Executive Officer and General Manager of Research & Development Division, Yasufumi Fukuma expanded on the company’s vision, saying “Topcon’s vision for the medical imaging collaboration helps further research partnerships with our key opinion leaders. We believe the new services and products developed by Watson Health imaging collaborative will help clinical and research experts across the world to improve the quality and efficiency of eye care.” 

Initial plans include Topcon and its subsidiary companies ifa Systems AG (FSE: IS8) and inoveon training Watson relevant to ophthalmic imaging needs. As the work of the collaborative evolves, Watson’s rationale and insights will advances, informed by the latest combined wisdom of the member organizations. 

Rainer Waedlich, founder and chairman of the ifa group stated: “With Topcon as a majority shareholder and IBM as a leading technology partner we are entering a new world of knowledge based eye care. Cognitive Computing becomes reality using the structured and curated data enabled by ifa’s digital documentation systems in ophthalmology and optometry worldwide.” 

Topcon has significant expertise in optical systems and laser technologies, which are embedded in its medical devices. Dr. Lloyd Hildebrand, an ophthalmologist and ifa/inoveon’s Chief Medical Officer said: “These are very exciting times for patients and their doctors. IBM Watson Health’s Big Data Analytics and Cognitive Computing will empower ophthalmologists world-wide to dynamically and continuously keep up to date and practice an innovative highly personalized, knowledge-based, and patient-centered brand of eye care.” 

About Topcon Corporation
Topcon operates three in-house businesses: Eye Care, Smart Infrastructure and Positioning divisions. These integrate the optical technologies it has nurtured since its foundation in 1932 and more recently the latest digital technologies. As the world’s leading brand of ophthalmic instruments, its Eye Care Business has developed a wide range of ophthalmic instruments and systems for eye examination, measurement, diagnosis and treatment. Recently, it has begun focusing on system solutions, advanced ophthalmic medical instruments, disease management and medical devices for preventative medicine.

About ifa and inoveon
The ifa group is the leading provider for Health IT in eye care worldwide. Every day more than 14,500 users manage over 200,000 patient visits with ifa’s EMR (Electronic Medical Records) and diagnostic imaging with ifa’s VNA (Vendor Neutral Archives). Inoveon Corporation is a 100% subsidiary of ifa systems AG and specializes in clinical IT solutions (telemedicine for the management of Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) patients, IT based clinical research and web based disease registries).Topcon acquired 50.1% of the ifa stocks in November 2015 and the companies started to jointly market high tech solutions for digital data management in eye care (brand name: IMAGEnet Connect) in combination with their innovative medical device portfolio for ophthalmology and optometry.

About IBM Watson Health
Watson is the first commercially available cognitive computing capability representing a new era in computing. The system, delivered through the cloud, analyzes high volumes of data, understands complex questions posed in natural language, and proposes evidence-based answers. Watson continuously learns, gaining in value and knowledge over time, from previous interactions. In April 2015, the company launched IBM Watson Health and the Watson Health Cloud platform. The new unit will help improve the ability of doctors, researchers and insurers to innovate by surfacing insights from the massive amount of personal health data being created and shared daily. The Watson Health Cloud will allow this information to be de-identified, shared and combined with a dynamic and constantly growing aggregated view of clinical, research and social health data. For more information on IBM Watson, visit:

IBM Watson Health News Release