Welltok Takes IBM Watson to Dinner

Welltok, which uses IBM's Watson cognitive computing technology for health care apps, teamed with Healthy Dining on a nutrition and menu app.

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Welltok, an IBM Watson partner, and Healthy Dining, a provider of restaurant industry nutrition information, have announced a partnership dedicated to contributing to a healthier America.

Welltok is the creator of the CaféWell Health Optimization Platform that guides and provides incentives for consumers to optimize their health. Through its collaboration with Healthy Dining, Welltok's CaféWell Concierge app, powered by IBM Watson's cognitive computing technology, will integrate Healthy Dining's restaurant nutrition data to provide personalized menu choices. The app recommends healthy meal options based on an individual's dietary restrictions, health needs, weight and fitness goals, or food preferences. Every menu item is validated by Healthy Dining's team of registered dietitians and contains healthful nutrition attributes.

"Optimal nutrition is one of the most significant factors in preventing and reversing the majority of our nation's health conditions, like diabetes, overweight and obesity, heart disease and stroke and Alzheimer's," said Anita Jones-Mueller, president of Healthy Dining, in a statement. "Since most Americans eat away from home an average of five times each week and it can be almost impossible to know what to order at restaurants to meet specific health needs, it is very important that wellness and condition management programs empower smart dining out choices. We applaud Welltok's leadership in providing a new dimension to healthy restaurant dining through its groundbreaking CaféWell Concierge app."

The CaféWell Concierge app was recently launched by Colorado-based Centura Health to support consumers who are transitioning back to everyday life after experiencing a heart condition. The Concierge app provides these consumers with personalized, on-demand guidance and rewards for choosing healthier, lower sodium "Sodium Savvy" dishes at local restaurants.

"By coupling Healthy Dining's data with IBM Watson's cognitive ability to understand an individual's dietary preferences and recognize their location, the CaféWell Concierge app guides users to the best menu choices and supports their journey to optimized health," said Jeff Cohen, co-founder and vice president of functional architecture for Welltok.

Last year, Welltok became the first investment from IBM's Watson Group. IBM formed the Watson Group in January of 2014 and committed $1 billion to the business unit to focus on research and development and bringing cloud-delivered cognitive applications and services to market. At the launch of the group, IBM also pledged $100 million for venture investments to support Big Blue's ecosystem of startups and businesses that are building cognitive apps powered by Watson in the IBM Watson Developers Cloud.

In February 2014, Welltok announced it raised $22.1 million in series C funding led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) with participation from IBM and Qualcomm, through its venture capital arm, Qualcomm Ventures' life fund portfolio.

The Welltok CaféWell Concierge uses Watson's ability to uncover big data insights by understanding the complexities of human language, reading millions of pages of data within seconds and improving its own performance by learning.

Welltok's CaféWell has gained traction with population health managers by solving two key challenges: organizing the expanding ecosystem of health and wellness solutions—apps, condition management programs, tracking devices, content and more—and delivering an engaging consumer platform that aligns activities with incentives, such as premium reductions for taking actions that lower body mass index (BMI). CaféWell accomplishes this through the use of Social Health Itineraries that are personalized based on an individual's health status, available benefits, behavioral characteristics, interests and other factors.

"We must transform beyond the current 'sickcare' system built for patients to one that optimizes each consumer's health status," said Jeff Margolis, chairman and CEO of Welltok. "To do so, the industry needs a practical, but radically different approach to engage the 85 percent of the nation's population who are making daily choices that impact their health. Our Platform as a Service solution meets this need by revolutionizing the way population managers partner with consumers and connecting them to the right resources and incentives. We have the vision, industry expertise and financial strength to lead the charge in optimizing consumers' health and maximizing rewards."