BlackBerry invests in health vertical

BlackBerry CEO John Chen has said there’s still life left in the struggling handset maker. He made a move to strengthen it by putting money into a U.S. cloud-based clinical information software and service provider to get into the healthcare market.

The company said Tuesday it has invested an undisclosed amount into NantHealth LLC, which makes an enterprise health records system used in Britain, Portugal as well as the U.S. NantHealth says its platform is installed at approximately 250 hospitals, and connects more than 16,000 medical devices.

In a news release the companies said they intend to collaborate on the development of integrated clinical systems that are governed by regulated privacy rules.

Doctors, nurses and other medical support staff are increasingly carrying mobile devices rather than paper files for work. Known for running a secure network, BlackBerry will likely hope that institutions buying NantHealth systems will favour its handsets, particularly if the systems are closely tied to its ecosystem.

“BlackBerry’s expertise is incredibly valuable to NantHealth as we expand our platform and make it available for wider deployment through a secure mobile device,” NantHealth founder Soon-Shiong said in a release. “The future of the healthcare industry requires the ability to share information securely and quickly, whether device-to-device or doctor-to-doctor anywhere and at any time. The potential to integrate BlackBerry’s secure mobile communications, along with the company’s QNX embedded technology, will put the power of a supercomputer in the palm of the caregiver’s hand.”

A BlackBerry spokesman wasn’t available this morning to talk about how NantHealth systems could be appealing in Canada, but it did say the partnership isn’t geographically limited.

It is BlackBerry’s [TSX: BB]  first industry-vertical investment. Its QNX subsidiary, which makes a secure operating system by the same name, provides vertical solutions for automotive, health care, transportation and utilities sectors.

“This investment and planned collaboration aligns with the reliability, security and versatility of BlackBerry’s end-to-end solutions – from the embedded QNX operating system powering complex medical devices, to secure cloud-based networks, to instantaneous information sharing over BBM Protected,” Chen said in a statement. “NantHealth is a proven innovator in developing leading platforms that allow medical professionals to share information and deliver care efficiently. BlackBerry’s capabilities align closely with NantHealth’s and this investment represents the type of forward-looking opportunities that are vital to our future.”


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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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