BlackBerry has invested an undisclosed sum in the healthcare IT startup NantHealth in the hopes that the struggling handset maker can build a future in the medical field.
The companies announced the investment Tuesday, saying they'd collaborate on "the development of HIPAA and other government privacy certified, integrated clinical systems that transform the delivery of medical care."
NantHealth provides cloud-based IT to healthcare providers to power information sharing, patient monitoring, and bill payment. The company says it will embed its medical software in future BlackBerry devices. BlackBerry CEO John Chen says the handset maker in turn will embed BlackBerry's QNX operating system, already in some MRIs, in more medical devices.
He also plans to leverage BlackBerry's security platform to secure cloud-based networks for healthcare institutions and to enable the sharing of medical information between doctors and patients over BBM Protected, a secure communication platform currently in development.
Why this matters
BlackBerry has been struggling to maintain its relevance in the mobile industry. It has been weighing ditching its devices business and focusing on bolstering its enterprise business. Its investment in NantHealth is a good indication of its plans for the future.
Of course, healthcare is an industry that's attracting the interest of a lot of companies in the mobile industry, including wireless operators, device makers, and software developers. BlackBerry should have a leg up, given its focus on security, which is paramount in healthcare. But it may still have to convince those in the healthcare industry of its own health for the foreseeable future. (See Apigee Puts InsightsOne Acquisition to Work, Sprint Accelerator: Changing Carrier DNA, and AT&T Opens Up on Health .)
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading