IBM, CVS Tap Watson to Improve Chronic Disease Treatment

IBM announced a partnership with CVS Health which will use IBM's Watson to improve personalized patient care and chronic disease treatment.

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IBM today announced a deal with CVS Health whereby the healthcare services provider will use IBM’s predictive analytics and Watson cognitive computing to transform care management services for patients with chronic disease.

Big Blue said the partnership will enable healthcare practitioners, including those across the CVS Health enterprise, to use Watson to advance care management. Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities interact in natural language, read and understand vast amounts of information, and continuously learn.

The offering will enable healthcare practitioners to quickly and easily gain insights from a broad array of health information sources such as medical health records, pharmacy and medical claims information, environmental factors, and fitness devices, to help individuals stay on track with their care and meet health goals.

“The capabilities of the IBM Watson Health Cloud, when coupled with CVS Health’s insights into medication utilization and patient behavior, could prove transformative for the industry,” said Mike Rhodin, senior vice president of IBM Watson, in a statement. “Improving care for people with chronic conditions supports IBM’s commitment to make big plays that advance the health and well-being of the global community. Through the recent acquisitions of Phytel, Explorys, and Curam we also bring extraordinary capabilities in patient engagement and population health, enabling us to deliver a powerful solution that supports individuals wherever they are, whenever they need it.”

The joint CVS Health/IBM Watson Health solution will be optimized to address a range of chronic conditions. Chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity are the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. and represent 86 percent of the nation’s $2.9 trillion in annual health spending, according to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

IBM and CVS will provide the joint solution to insurers and other entities serving the employer and health plan market. They will focus on helping to predict individuals at risk for declining health who may benefit from proactive, customized engagement programs; encouraging patients to adopt safe and healthy behaviors, including adherence to prescribed medicines and healthy lifestyle regimens, and suggesting appropriate use of primary care and out-patient providers.

The partnership brings together IBM’s Watson Health Cloud and cognitive computing capabilities with both companies’ expertise in predictive analytics and patient engagement. CVS Health also brings strong insights into medication adherence and pharmacy care.

“CVS Health and IBM are both committed to improving health and finding ways to engage individuals in their well-being through the use of information and technology,” said Troyen A. Brennan, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer for CVS Health, in a statement. “This partnership will enable us to leverage advanced technologies and key health information to develop a tool that can be applied by a variety of health care providers such as pharmacists, nurse practitioners at MinuteClinics or connected health care providers, and that can help our pharmacy benefit management clients improve member health and manage cost.”

CVS has 7,800 retail drugstores, nearly 1,000 walk-in medical clinics, and is a pharmacy benefits manager with more than 70 million plan members.

IBM continues to take Watson to new vertical markets, new partnerships and new geographies. Earlier this month, IBM announced plans to expand Watson's reach into the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

IBM has tapped Mubadala Development Company, an Abu Dhabi-based investment and development company, to help bring Watson to the MENA region. The companies will collaborate to deliver Watson cloud-based cognitive computing to healthcare, retail, education, banking and finance organizations. The new joint venture will also create a broad regional ecosystem of partners, entrepreneurs, start-ups and app developers.

“This new joint venture with IBM will put both the UAE and broader MENA region on the leading edge for adoption of this breakthrough technology,” said Homaid Al Shemmari, CEO of Aerospace & Engineering Services at Mubadala, in a statement. “We are confident that together we can continue to accelerate the region’s knowledge-based economy by empowering businesses to capitalize on new opportunities with this world class technology.”