Phone maker BlackBerry said on Tuesday it is taking a stake in NantHealth, a startup that is working on various pieces of the digital health market, including connecting medical devices and the sharing of digital health records.
In an interview, NantHealth founder Patrick Soon-Shiong called the investment “strategic” but declined to say how much BlackBerry was investing. Future BlackBerry devices will support NantHealth’s medical software, known as the clinical Operating System, and use BBM Protected to allow for secure communication between doctors and patients. Before starting NantHealth, Soon-Shiong was the founder of two pharmaceutical companies — American Pharma Partners and Abraxis Bioscience.
BlackBerry said it is excited because the deal touches on where the company is headed in terms of its focus on specialized industries, such as health care, as well as on its BBM messaging service and QNX embedded operating system.
CEO John Chen has talked broadly about refocusing the company around those areas and, in particular, making sure that the device business appeals to heavily regulated industries, such as health care.
QNX is already used in many MRI systems, but BlackBerry said it hopes to expand the use of the software beyond the hospital and into future medical devices.