Industry Watch – February 2017

Feb. 1, 2017

Organizations line up to be part of IBM Watson security beta program

Global leaders in banking, healthcare, insurance, education, and other key industries are getting in the queue to join the IBM Watson for Cyber Security beta program. Sun Life Financial, University of Rochester Medical Center, Avnet, SCANA Corporation, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, California Polytechnic State University, University of New Brunswick, and Smarttech are among the first 40 organizations testing Watson’s ability to assist in the battle against cybercrime. Watson for Cyber Security uses intelligent technologies like machine learning and natural language processing to identify and prioritize threats, which can help security analysts make better, faster decisions from vast amounts of data. Currently, threat identification and detection is steadily increasing the workload of security analysts with more alerts and anomalies to process than ever.

A recent study from the IBM Institute for Business Value shows that nearly 60% of security professionals believe emerging cognitive technologies will be a critical part of changing the tides in the war on cybercrime.1

Beta customers are leveraging Watson in their current security environments to bring additional context to their cybersecurity data, with new use cases such as:

  • Determining whether or not a current security “offense” is associated with a known malware or cybercrime campaign; if so, Watson can provide background on the malware employed, vulnerabilities exploited, and scope of the threat, among other insights.
  • Better identifying suspicious behavior; Watson provides additional context to user activity outside of the primary suspicious behavior, which can provide better guidance to whether or not an activity is malicious.

Working with these beta customers, IBM is continuing to enhance Watson’s understanding of cybersecurity data and refine how Watson can seamlessly integrate into day-to-day security operations.

Source: IBM Security


  1. IBM Institute of Business Value Study: Cybersecurity in the Cognitive Era, 2016.

Tech Watch

Google aims to redefine meetings—virtually and in Ultra HD

If your team has a penchant for the latest in collaboration tools, why not go virtual and have multimedia meetings in 4K? The ultra high-definition Google Jamboard is a 55-inch touchscreen digital whiteboard hooked into the cloud. It comes with a built-in HD camera, speakers, and Wi-Fi and is designed to combine next-gen video conferencing and business collaboration tools to help foster your group’s creative side. Users can work with teammates from across the globe on other Jamboards or use the smartphone or tablet companion app remotely. Save your “jam” session with your colleagues in the cloud, and you won’t be left wondering, “Now what was that great idea Fred had last Friday?”

The Jamboard seeks to make the best of combining Google Search, Google Maps, Chrome, and all the tools available in the G Suite, a set of intelligent apps that includes Gmail, Docs, Drive (to hold documents, presentations, and photos), and Calendar. Plenty of other tools are available, such as sticky notes, stencils, and intelligent features like handwriting and shape recognition. A physical stylus and eraser are also part of the package.

Release date for the Google Jamboard is first half of 2017. Pricing should run under $6,000. Look for third-party app development for the board to blossom once it rolls into conference rooms around the world.


Can a surgical mask become a virus killing machine?

An engineering researcher at the University of Alberta (UAlberta) in Canada has
developed a new way to treat common surgical masks so they can trap and kill airborne viruses. His team’s research findings appeared in the journal Scientific Reports on Jan. 4, 2017, published by Nature Publishing Group.

University of Alberta materials engineering professor Hyo-Jick Choi (right) and graduate student Ilaria Rubino examine a sample of filters treated with a solution that kills viruses.

Hyo-Jick Choi, a professor in the UAlberta Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, noticed that many people wear a simple surgical-style mask for protection during outbreaks of influenza or other potentially deadly viruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) or Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). But the masks weren’t designed to prevent the spread of viruses.

Airborne pathogens like influenza are transmitted in aerosol droplets when we cough or sneeze. The masks may trap the virus-laden droplets, but the virus is still infectious on the mask. Masks capable of killing viruses could save lives, especially in an epidemic or pandemic situation.

Knowing that the masks are inexpensive and commonly used, Choi and his research colleagues went about exploring ways to improve the mask’s filter. In a twist of fate, a problem he was struggling with in one field of research (the development of oral vaccines like a pill or a lozenge) became a solution in another.

A major hurdle in the development of oral vaccines is that when liquid solutions dry, crystals form and destroy the virus used in vaccines, rendering the treatment useless. In a nifty bit of engineering martial arts, Choi flipped the problem on its head and turned crystallization into a tool to kill active viruses.

Choi and his team developed a salt formulation and applied it to the filters in the hope that salt crystals would “deactivate” the influenza virus.

The mechanics of simple chemistry make the treatment work.

When an aerosol droplet carrying the influenza virus contacts the treated filter, the droplet absorbs salt on the filter. The virus is exposed to continually increasing concentrations of salt.

As the droplet evaporates, the virus suffers fatal physical damage when the salt returns to its crystalized state.

While developing solid vaccines, Choi observed that sugar used for stabilizing the vaccine during the drying process crystalizes as it dries out. When crystals form, sharp edges and spikes take shape and they physically destroy the virus vaccine.

“We realized that we could use that to our advantage to improve surgical masks,” says Choi.

In a series of experiments and tests at UAlberta and in the Department of Medical Zoology at the Kyung Hee University School of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea, the team arrived at a workable treatment that improves the efficacy of the fiber filter inside the masks.

By using a safe substance (table salt) to improve an existing, approved product, Choi sees very few roadblocks to implementing the innovation. Now Choi has been awarded a provisional patent for the development of virus deactivation systems based on the salt-crystallization mechanism.

Source: UAlberta

Feb. 19-23, Orlando, FL

What to see and do at HIMSS17

HIMSS17 Keynote Speakers
  • Ginni M. Rometty, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, IBM
    Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, 8:30 – 10:00 AM
  • John Boehner, Former Speaker of the House
    Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, 08:30 – 10:00 AM
  • Robert Herjavec, Cybersecurity Expert, Entrepreneur, Author
    Kevin O’Leary, Investor in Innovation
    Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, 01:15 – 02:30 PM

HIMSS17 Specialty Exhibit Areas

  • Clinical & Business Intelligence Knowledge Center: New payment models, revenue cycle strategies, risk management, and more.
  • Connected Health Experience: Explore the new centralized hub for all connected patient technologies (consumer, mobile, games).
  • Cybersecurity Command Center: Prepare your organization to defend against cyber adversaries in this interactive exhibit.
  • Federal Health IT Solutions Pavilion: Explore the latest initiatives and products from federal agencies.
  • HX360 Innovation Zone—Expanded: Learn more about virtual reality, 3D printing, augmented reality, APIs, and what start-up companies are bringing to the table.
  • Intelligent Health Pavilion: Watch live, working demonstrations of cutting-edge technologies, including a smart medical home and an intelligent hospital.
  • HIMSS Interoperability Showcase—Redesigned: An ecosystem where all stakeholders can securely, effectively, and efficiently contribute, share, and analyze data.
  • Population Care Management Knowledge Center—NEW: Discover the answers you need to design and implement care coordination and care management programs.
  • University Row: Discover educational institutions with degree programs in fields related to health informatics.


Certified Health IT Product List update

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) recently announced that the Certified Health IT Products List (ONC CHPL) has been updated thanks to the Enhanced Oversight and Accountability Final Rule.

What’s new?
  • Three new surveillance reports are available as downloadable csv files on CHPL Resources.
  • The CHPL hosts two new pages to reflect health IT products that are no longer certified and developers who are precluded from certifying health IT products under the Enhanced Oversight and Accountability Final Rule. This data includes all known decertified products for the 2014 edition as well as the 2015 edition and will continue to be updated as certification statuses change.
  • The CHPL now will display the results of all surveillance activities for certified products. This data is required to be updated quarterly, so the first release is expected in April. However, the setup for the new data is now in place.
What’s not changing?
  • Found certification non-conformities will continue to be updated on a weekly basis.

Check out the Certified Health IT Product List ( to see all these updates. If you are using a product from the CMS EHR Incentive Program, ONC encourages you to reach out to that program to confirm whether it is still eligible or to seek a hardship exemption.

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