BlackBerry invests in healthcare IT firm NantHealth

By Simon Sage on 15 Apr 2014 08:29 am EDT

BlackBerry has made a strategic investment with an end-to-end medical solutions provider by the name of NantHealth. As you can imagine, the health industry requires cloud connectivity while remaining secure, and NantHealth’s solutions, like BlackBerry’s, fall into that category. Specifics of the partnership are still being hashed out, but we can expect synergies to be found across QNX (which is already embedded in many vital pieces of medical machinery), BBM Protected, and devices. Here’s what BlackBerry CEO John Chen had to say on the partnership:

“The future of BlackBerry lies in creative opportunities like this that take our many core disciplines and combine them in ways no one else can match. Healthcare is one of the key industries in which we have unique advantages and this investment reflects our commitment to maximize our opportunities there.”

It seems like a strange time to be making expenditures like this, but continuing to invest in the future is as vital to the survival of BlackBerry as keeping day-to-day costs down. How do you guys think BlackBerry could do with a concerted presence in the medical sphere? Do we have any readers in the industry already? How pronounced is BlackBerry’s presence there already?

Source: MarketWired

Press release:

BlackBerry Invests in NantHealth for Integrated End-To-End Healthcare Solutions

WATERLOO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 15, 2014) - BlackBerry Limited (NASDAQ:BBRY)(TSX:BB), a world leader in mobile communications, today announced an investment in healthcare IT leader NantHealth. The companies intend to collaborate on the development of HIPAA and other government privacy certified, integrated clinical systems that transform the delivery of medical care. NantHealth is a cloud-based medical IT provider transforming the delivery of healthcare for payers, providers and patients through real-time connectivity, high performance computing and 21st century decision support.

"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," said BlackBerry CEO and Executive Chair, John Chen. "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."

Founded by medical entrepreneur Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, NantHealth works to transform clinical delivery with actionable clinical intelligence at the moment of decision, enabling clinical discovery through real-time machine learning systems. The company's technology empowers physicians, patients, payers and researchers to transcend the traditional barriers of today's healthcare system. The NantHealth platform is installed at approximately 250 hospitals, and connects more than 16,000 medical devices collecting more than 3 billion vital signs annually.

"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," said Soon-Shiong, NantHealth's founder and a pioneer of pharmaceutical treatments for both diabetes and cancer. "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. Providing actionable information at the time of need will significantly improve the efficiency of healthcare and, more importantly, the efficacy of care for the patient."

Details of the intended collaboration are being developed, but Chen and Soon-Shiong said they see significant opportunities because:

  • QNX is established as a real-time embedded operating system for mission-critical medical diagnostic and monitoring devices in hospitals and homecare environments;
  • BBM Protected is an upcoming, secure communication platform that could connect healthcare providers, field service workers, emergency personnel, patients and family members;
  • NantHealth's Clinical Operating System (cOS™) platform is the first operating system of its kind in healthcare. The platform integrates the knowledge base with the delivery system and the payment system, enabling 21st century coordinated care at a lower cost;
  • NantHealth and BlackBerry can combine secure cloud-based and supercomputing services to provide data integration, decision support and analytics; and
  • BlackBerry's devices are the global standard for secure communication and collaboration.

"The future of BlackBerry lies in creative opportunities like this that take our many core disciplines and combine them in ways no one else can match," said Chen. "Healthcare is one of the key industries in which we have unique advantages and this investment reflects our commitment to maximize our opportunities there."

Reader comments

BlackBerry invests in healthcare IT firm NantHealth


Most industries need this same type of communication, law enforcement, military etc.

Posted via CB10

Can't go wrong with getting into the medical field no matter which way you look at it.

 BlackBerry Q10  Keep The Faith 

It's about time. I am in the industry and can attest to the opportunities within medical applications.
Privacy and security are paramount concerns to healthcare. So Blackberry's prowess in those areas should provide a good foundation as they develop products that bake in those features at the onset.

At a time where FB and others are making astronomical investments in future-ware, BB seems to be level-headed by making an investment where there appears to be early returns.
This is good news for a relatively small company to re-build steam.

I've been preaching for some time now that John Chen has Visionary Qualities.

This is one of them. Good Job to Team BBRY.

Posted via CB10

This looks to be the kind of partnership BlackBerry needs to be making. So many health-care providers and companies are still lacking in many key areas of security, working with a company with its foot already in that door and potentially offering BlackBerry as a partner to that solution beyond just BES is good business.

While it may cost money, sometimes you do have to spend some in order to make more.

Posted via CB10

Completely agree. And what I like is Chen's comment, "that take our many core disciplines and combine them in ways no one else can match."

He's on the offensive - we see him showing BlackBerry's strength and tooting their horns as he should be.

Agreed! BlackBerry is about to tap that bottomless money well that is the health industry! Nice move indeed.

Doubt Reuters will report thus piece of gold...

Posted via CB10

I would think that if this means support for the devices it would also mean they would eventually want to make a tablet again.

If this only has to do with bes10 then disregard my 2¢

Posted via my sexy Note 3. Big hands ;-)

Perfect match and a huge one at that. Chen has the background needed to make BlackBerry an integral part business solutions.

This will be the first many partnerships.

Posted via CB10

Let's hope that it turns out to make QNX much more profitable then it is today. While QNX has nearly limitless POTENTIAL value it currently only makes profits in the 8 digit figures. It should be making 10 times that and if BlackBerry can combine it's other assets and strengths with QNX it someday might.


But if Chen is investing $ now, the man much have a strategic plan.

Posted from my CB via the power of "Q"

jr4941, thank you for sharing this link. I agree that Dr. Soon-Shiong sounds impressive.

NantHealth's creation of the unifying "agnostic" front end is significant as it has moved the technology beyond the proprietary equipment constraints. Partnering with a company showing some success in the medical field is a good thing.

So, how large is BlackBerry's investment and what is John Chen's vision?

Secure communications and cloud services are high potential profit centres. Device manufacturing, less so. Still, getting BlackBerry devices into the hands of medical staff cannot be underestimated as a marketing tool.

Posted via CB10

Wow, great news in my opinion, at a time like this, BlackBerry must feel this is a very important investment. They're not just throwing money around.

Posted via CB10

Medical communication would be a great niche market. Every hospital i've worked at (in Canada not sure about usa) is still on a pager system (isn't high end pagers how BlackBerry got its start?) If I could get pages via secure BBM that would be pretty nice

Yeah but it's not a niche market. It's 20 percent of the US economy . The future of mobile is embedded M2M software. This is what is going to dramatically expand the mobile experience. Not some dinky little gaming app.

Posted via CB10

Right on time with this comment THBW! Apps will come...have to shore up key areas first...corner and dominate vital industries and sectors where BB is strong. Then the apps will follow...maybe not Instagram....but certainly enterprise apps and apps that are needed within industries.

Lol we pretty much all just carry cell phones. I don't work for the hospital as a medic but I am there a lot as you might guess. Nobody carries pagers anymore. Some of the bigger hospitals staff carry something more like 2way radios on their own frequency

Posted via CB10

Lots of Physicians still carry pagers in Canada.. along with iphones... and Macbook that they can never figure out how to use to make a presentation

We are are used to paying needless markups on just about everything so good market for company like BlackBerry to get into

Remember Chen Dr.'s looking at charts ect. will probably want big screens so don't forget about high-end full touch phones

Posted via CB10

Should be a good decision, it's also a industry that's not going away and will be around. Only time can tell whether it's a good move or not but when is progress not a good thing.

Posted via CB10

They're in embedded systems.
They're in automotive.
They're in MDM.
They're in M2M.
They're in IM.
They're in Mobile hardware and software..

Qnx driving it all.

Posted via CB10

BB is ALIVE and well...just need a steady course correction in a few key areas. Everyone focuses on handsets...but forgets the essential backbone arena that BB is strong in with healthy barriers to entry.

Correction. QNX is alive and well. BlackBerry is on life support with an uncertain prognosis. QNX could be spun-off and BlackBerry could collapse; that is the reality as to which entity needs the other.

Posted via CB10 on BlackBerry Q5

Good decision. The smartphone craze may die down but the need for medical care never will.

BlackBerry Z30 STA-100-2 running :D

Yes and no. Trends in healtcare can move quickly. While HIPAA is big - security is not always at the forefront, which is weird. Especially in imaging, most apps are made for iOS devices. iOS is the predominant OS for physicians. Android, BB, WP is not very prevalent for physicians.

The iOS presence is ONLY because BB was too busy fumbling in their panties prior to Chen. here in the states has lengthy federal and state requirements for secure transmission and storage of data. iOS can not compete at any serious level...nor in highly regulated areas of healthcare are they approved for use on networks.
Now I agree apps wise...BB still will lag far behind and these kinds of moves do nothing in the immediate future to address or correct that issue. However, positioning BB into the arena so that it makes it very challenging for IT to comply with the many different regulations surrounding security and still allow iOS devices. BB should consider partnering with key specific app dev houses to make BB native app offerings for the choice. Sure would make it real difficult for physicians to stay and comply all at the same without having to go back to carrying 2 devices again.
This is a brilliant begin to lock up a segment of the industry that is right within BB's sweet spot and few can match at the moment. Keep pushing Chen......EXCELLENT!

Medical app selection for BlackBerry is atrocious. I had to get android for one I could use. Medscape doesn't work well, epocrates does but is my second choice. I did contact epocrates and ask them to look into supporting BlackBerry 10. We will see but not holding my breath

Posted via CB10

Now if healthcare providers would stop dropping BlackBerry and switching to other phones. . .

Posted via CB10

I am in health care. This is a great move with a lot of upside. If BlackBerry can be exploit this sector this could be huge for them. That's assuming they don't F this up too.

The only solution for unified communications. Android and iPhone toys for children's.

Posted via CB10

This will show people that BlackBerry isn't bankrupt and still active. So if they can make headlines because of this news, maybe it will change people mind.

Posted via CB10 on my Z30

Did QNX buy BlackBerry? Or did BlackBerry buy QNX? It feels that most of the business going forward is QNX related... perhaps if QNX made handsets earlier they sky could have been the limit.

Posted via CB10

QNX is one real time operating system between a couple of others.
BlackBerry bought QNX to build their future around QNX - moving away from the Java virtual machine they used before.

Because QNX is so powerful and flexible it can be used in all sorts of industries.
Then again, why not diversify?

Posted via CB10

Interesting move and could also lead to dedicated medical apps that work on secure PB or PB replacement tablet or displays for key data transfer or viewing. I can't really see looking at the wealth of data such as scans or monitoring conditions on a handheld device.

But early development of needs with a "Key" account that could also tie into "Global" health care programs might be the END GAME as one strategic move BBRY is making.

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry 10 could be used very well in the medical world on dedicated hardware.
No buttons - so with a sealed case it would be very easy to keep clean.

Say a tablet, without speakers and two or three golden connectors for charging.

Posted via CB10

EXACTLY!...Sounds like a return of the Playbook...this time done correctly. What are the chances that deep in the dark rooms at Waterloo...smarter minds haven't been working on that? Consider for a moment...pushing further into regulated arenas that BB should own anyway...does little good in the long term without the devices to be used on the network. Hmmm?????

Awesome...Love this Guy Chen..Thats what BBRY needs instead of going to rat hole race of device margins!

Posted via CB10

As a Healthcare Consultant medical devices. Is BlackBerry becoming healthcare mission critical ? I think so !! The usage of iPhone in healthcare is to simple focused. What is required is real time mission critical data communications and analytic's ! BlackBerry NantHealth Solutions partnership makes healthcare productivity sense ! : love this news ...many MD love their BlackBerry but are forced to use iPhones this can be the switch timing news !! BlackBerry you have to execute !! Next sector to hit is the Real Estate Agent sector, big potential here and many were former BlackBerry users !

Better get back into some type of tablet business or get spooled up on becoming a solution provider for iPads.

Posted via CB10

If BlackBerry is better suited to become a solution provider for iPads rather than struggle with margins on their own tablet to provide the solution, then so be it.

I sort of agree. The key is a smartphone that can bridge to a larger screen for ease of use. The Phone and all the permissions embedded in the device provide patient confidentiality. The last thing you need in a hospital setting is everyone carrying a tablet and fumbling around. Big mistake. M2M is the linchpin to making it work productively and efficiently.

Posted via CB10

Yeah, first thing that popped into my head was a tablet. I think they could collaborate on some type of specialized tablet for Healthcare. I don't think an iPad is suited for this, it needs to be something industry specific. This is great news in my opinion. It's not something that will benefit consumer devices directly but will possibly get BlackBerry back in the hands of more decision makers. And that is a good thing!

Posted via CB10

Since the Heartbleed situation BlackBerry has become the standard for security. Hopefully others follow.

Powered by my BlackBerry (Z10). Join my #BBM Channels C001227CF, C00476C37, C003829C9, C002454C9,C002190AC, C00120CE3

Positive news, friends! I think we are gaining momentum going forward. Screw the media and their biased reporting, BlackBerry is moving forward without them!

Posted via CB10

Bb10 should have been QNX imo in the first place. And card multitasking from WebOS and playbook

Posted via CB10

Who among us wants our health records on an Android phone? Let's hope the healthcare profession figures out what so many other professions have forgotten; Security and Privacy are closely linked. Only one mobile solution has real security from end to end. BlackBerry.

Two things will happen here... either this so called NantHealth (for Integrated End-To-End Healthcare Solutions) will convince people (or patients in particular) to buy BlackBerry devices to enjoy their services or the "NantHealth" itself will be spread to other platforms...

Posted via CB10

Excellent move. I am in health care. There is a big move to electronic records. Remember the great video that came out when the PB was young showing them in medical and law enforcement settings?

Posted via CB from "Z" best

This is the kind of stuff I heard previous founder Jim and CEO of Blackberry Thornstein talk about. This isn't some brand spanking new idea Mr. Chen invented himself lol Sometimes it takes a while to be executed after looking at many a companies pros and cons. Good investment.

As one who has worked in healthcare IT solutions, had to track my own health activities recently (across several medical disciplines) and have a son who is both a computer engineer and cardiologist, this is an excellent move. Privacy and security are the two key issues required in healthcare; a perfect fit for QNX and BlackBerry.

Recently I encountered a situation where I could have gone to my local hospital five minutes away and done a (Skype or BBM) video call to the other hospital, 45 km away, where I recently had an important procedure. At a followup visit to the remote hospital, they asked me two questions and I was out of there.

Currently one of the hospitals I use has the ability to track appointments, reports, medications, etc. via the web; their mobile version at least gives results for the past two days while the PC browser version is persistent with its content. Just this past week, I installed the for Android app on my Z30 and now re-order prescriptions via it.

In a world where we can have medical tests done anywhere (need for a particular specialty or when traveling, for instance) it is becoming critical that medical personnel be able to access an individual's health records such as patient history, medications, imaging studies and lab test results from "big data" sources.

If they have picked the right healthcare technology implementation as a starting point, this acquisition can have significant implications for BlackBerry. The combination of QNX robustness on medical devices and BlackBerry's ability to do secure text messaging as well as high quality voice and video calling just adds into the value of this acquisition

I really wish BlackBerry were still called RIM

Posted via the Android CrackBerry App!

Good play. Government invests heavily in health care and becoming a line item in an annual government budget means some certainty of income for a sustained period of time.

Posted via CB10

Checking something.... Yup, Blackberry is officially the last technology company to try to get into healthcare IT.

Look for more of these kinds of moves by Mr. Chen. Great to see for sure. One person said it best on here....not only is this great for the obvious reasons, but it shows BlackBerry is not going bankrupt.

Powered by BlackBerry

Keeping a finger on the pulse of business that needs security. Good diagnosis Mr. Chen. Now this should be a shot in the arm for BB. This is a healthy protocol to move off life support and a chance to needle the competition at the same time. ...I'll quit now.

Posted via CB10, BB10, Z10. Win. Win. Win.

Now the strange shaped Q30 / Windermere phone kind of makes sense. A specialized medical phone?

I thought the same thing. Not quite a tablet and not really a phone. Can type quickly and accurately and the screen is large enough to view whatever the medical professionals need to view.

 Z10 Channel C003BD1AF

A corporate or specialized industry phone.

Def not a hipster device, and it was never designed to be one...

(Maybe they'd become hip just for that, you never know. "See, I've got my doc's phone, you know the stuff they use at the hospitals...." )

"No Q10?" -> "Buy from Chen... "

With that rumored pixel count of 1440x1440 it's like 4 Q10s checkerboard or 2 Z10s side-by-side (approx).

Imagine we get to use several apps side by side, open and running Playbook- or MS Windows style. Yes, baby!

"No Q10?" -> "Buy from Chen... "

I think BlackBerry should start talking to Panasonic to make the camera lens for all BlackBerry devices.

Panasonic used to make mobile phones back in the day.

Create a clever partnership like Nokia /Carl Zeiss.

This could strengthen BlackBerry's hand.

Posted via CB10

That's right Mr Bowers.

Sometimes you need to plough your own furrow.

If you're a sane person in an insane world, people question your sanity.

We are dealing with trillions of bits of information each minute.

So you're telling me security and privacy are not important? Ask the banks if they would like another recession courtesy of a security breach? HELL NO

BlackBerry...Get it done!!!!

Posted via CB10

A truly smart move by BlackBerry. The medical field business will NEVER go away. Hat off to Mr. Chen, very smart move Sr.


In the US, HIPAA privacy rules make secure messaging with file attachments very valuable. A complinat BBM would have been great a year ago. Now, the field is crowded. This was an easy one to see coming and I'm saddened that BBM, so close right now, missed the boat.

Doctors that I see here in the US are all carrying around tablets to take patient notes and write prescriptions. The scripts are wirelessly transmitted to the pharmacy of choice from there.

Over here we also are in the midst of the ObamaCare transition wherein the government is requiring all providers to connect to their massive centralized database servers. Seems like the perfect need for secure devices.

Posted via CB10

As long as BlackBerry can not only maintain and improve on health care information technology, but also innovate, they will be profitable in this venture.

I'm quite confident that they will go cross platform on this but if the companies will issue devices, they will go for BlackBerry devices to lessen or even eliminate communication problems between infrastructure and end-users.

What happens in Vegas...

Very interested when you see that they are going to launch a smartphone with specific capabilities for this sector late in 2014, early 2015. “We do plan to make the device available for all, but it will be optimized for viewing 3D images and CT scans” , nice move.

yay! This is such good news! Yay for Blackberry... this is a step in the right direction, a decision full of hope and potential to give Blackberry a new life and even greater purpose.. Chen has very progressive thinking and it shows

When my pops had his AAA, I checked out the life saving equipment he was attached to. I can see why BlackBerry is making this move. Sweet. QNX was already there, in his room helping him survive the ordeal.

Posted via CB10

This is a good move for BlackBerry. There are many positive possible outcomes that can come of this. I'm looking forward to see how this develops.

Posted via CB10

I would never trust a Dr who uses a droid or an apple instead of a BlackBerry.

Sent from my iPuh-lease-as-IF

A smart move. This is one piece of the puzzle to connect the other units together. To do it now in an aging population is a must for this company. This is a high growth health sector, a service sector with excellent margin. Much better than the hardware; too many competition with little margin. We still need some space age looking BB phones just to keep some folks/loyalists happy. A win-win. Thx JC.

All the folks that I deal with in the health care industry here in BC pack BlackBerry's so this is no surprise.
The health care industry is a stronghold and BlackBerry needs to ensure that continues.

Fantastic move and long overdue, #Team_BlackBerry LIFE

I was not born with a hunger to be free, it was only when I discovered that my freedom had been taken from me that I began to hunger for it. 4life Z10STL100-1/

This could be huge for not just BlackBerry but for the entire health care system. This is cutting edge ideas and technology with so many possible uses. How about a BlackBerry industrial grade full size tablet, never mind PlayBook call it BlackBerry WorkBook.


The firm I work for developed apps for Tablet in Medical Imaging, it was a great idea and customers loved it! We sold almost zero........

Tablets and Hospitals don't play nice, everywhere this was tested, different departments etc, within 24 hours all Tablets walked. This application works well in private Medical practices, not Hospitals.

"Device optimzed for viewing 3D images and CT scans" sounds to me like "big screen, beefy GPU/CPU, and fast".

Great industry to be involved in!

Machine to machine communication over BBM. That's new.

I wonder if a machine counts as a subscriber.

Posted via CB10

In response to BBRICO'S comment of what goes on the dark rooms of Waterloo? BlackBerry does have a new highly secure "Skunk Works" building in Waterloo that is not part of any BlackBerry campus. It is probably one of the most secure buildings in Canada. Not sure if it was included in the sale of their properties, however, little or no information is ever released of what goes on in there. From what I hear that is where any top secret development would occur. But then again no one is talking.

Posted via CB10

The BlackBerry Tablet will rise again! The new device will not be called a "Playbook", for sure! Hopefully something more businesslike. I've been waiting for this as our field staff have been complaining that the Panasonic Toughbook H2 is too big!

I work in Medical IT. Over regulated, highly competitive with razer slim margins. It is overwhelming dominated by the GE's, Philips, Siemens, and others. The medical industry is going through the "Obamacare" growing pains, when the smoke clears, we will see if BB has made a wise decision.

A minority investment, is really a tiny step, but could open doors.

BB, welcome to the Medical IT nightmare, with 1% margins!

Restore fully functional BlackBerry Bridge between BlackBerry 10 smartphones and BlackBerry PlayBook. Only then can you play in healthcare. The company is on life support which is ironic if not tragic.

Posted via CB10 on BlackBerry Q5

Hand held charting at bed side with blackberry is just years away for nurse and doctors will boost productivity

Posted via CB10

I see this as great news... VERY great news.

Posted via CrackBerry 10 (CB10) application using my BlackBerry Q10.

Smart move!!! Electronic Medical Record adoption is growing, mobility makes for efficiency but compromises security and security is a huge concern.

Posted via CB10

That was fast BlackBerry. This is a great news. I'm a Healthcare worker and it seems BlackBerry's topnotch Security is very important to this industry. Sir Chen did a right move. Don't let Apple make its way first in Healthcare. BlackBerry10/QNX is the future.

I see this as a software opportunity in a niche market. I don't think we will see BlackBerry devices in hospitals in the next few years.

IOW, Chen is consistent with following his plan to move away from hardware development and towards software development at the enterprise level.

Posted via CB10

Having been a BlackBerry user. NP and hospital staffer for years, I am very happy about this new development. I think that security is one issue but just as important is making patient care more effective by reducing the painful documentation. Many MD'S are leaving government and private insurance based practice behind because of the time consuming documentation and starting concierge practices which exist through direct pay to the MD. But not all if us can afford this.
One of the first medical related programs to start helping with prescribing medications was Epocrates, but they have refused to integrate their software with BlackBerry 10. I wrote letters in protest but they kept saying to just buy an IPhone.
I am sure that BlackBerry has the wherewithal to help medical professionals.

Posted via CB10

It will be years before this comes to fruition, if ever. BlackBerry doesn't have years to live. It needs to do something now.

Posted via CB10

Invest in getting your customers happy I say who cares about investing in health care nothing wrong with that, but get your software issues fixed for the faithful and listen to our needs which you clearly don't