By Euan Rocha
TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd and NantHealth, a healthcare-focused data provider, launched a secure cancer genome browser on Sunday, giving doctors the ability to access patients' genetic data on the BlackBerry Passport smartphone.
Earlier this year, BlackBerry bought a minority stake in privately held NantHealth. The mobile technology company sees healthcare as one of the niche sectors in which it has an advantage, due to the heightened focus on patient privacy and BlackBerry's vast networks that can manage and secure data on mobile devices.
The company said the cancer genome browser on the BlackBerry Passport enables deep, interactive reporting on genomics data for physicians. It gives oncologists a tool to view individual genetic alternations in a disease and allows them to highlight relevant treatment options.
BlackBerry launched the square-screened Passport device in September, the oddly shaped device was fashioned in a sense to tailor to the needs of the physicians, with a wider screen that allows for better viewing of X-rays, scans and documents.
"Our partnership with BlackBerry has really been able to create a scalable super-computer in the palm of the hands of the doctor," said Patrick Soon-Shiong, chief executive of NantHealth.
BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen said he expects this roll-out to get healthcare professionals interested in the Passport?.
The genome browser is fully encrypted to allow deployment to enable clinicians to securely access patient data as soon as it is available, wherever they are.
The browser will be demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January and it will be pre-loaded on BlackBerry Passport devices and available to the professional community in early 2015. The browser will also be available on certain other devices running on rival platforms, but secured by BlackBerry's network.
California-based NantHealth, whose cloud-based platform already connects thousands of medical devices in hospitals, was founded by Soon-Shiong, a surgeon and businessman, who made billions of dollars selling his two former companies, American Pharmaceutical Partners and Abraxis BioScience.
Soon-Shiong said the BlackBerry and NantHealth will continue to collaborate on software and hardware, and he said that the two are already working on a new device that will revolutionize the transport of big data sets. Details on this will be outlined early next year.
(Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)