CVS calls on IBM's Watson for predictive analytics

CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) has a new partner for its care management services: IBM's (NYSE:IBM) Watson computing platform, which will provide predictive analytics for patients with chronic disease.

The partnership will enable health care practitioners to use Watson to advance care management beyond the programs and services that are typically available today, according to a company statement by CVS and IBM. The Watson technology first came to national prominence in 2011 when it was used as a contestant on the quiz show, "Jeopardy," beating two of the show's top champions and joining what is still a short list of celebrity computer voices.

After its "Jeopardy" fame, IBM has used Watson's question-answering, computational power primarily in health care as a clinical decision support system. In CVS, Watson—named after Thomas J. Watson, IBM's long-time CEO—gets a partner with 7,800 stores, 1,000 walk-in clinics and a pharmacy benefits manager component with 70 million plan members.

Watson uses cognitive computing capabilities to interact in natural language. It reads and understands vast amounts of information, and learns continuously. The platform will provide insights to practitioners from a mix of information sources, including medical health records, pharmacy and medical claims information, environmental factors and fitness devices.

"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 Dr. Troyen Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer for CVS Health. "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 will call on Watson for use in dealing with a wide range of chronic conditions. In the partnership, IBM's Watson Health Cloud and cognitive computing capabilities will come together with both companies' expertise in predictive analytics and patient engagement. CVS Health also brings its insights into adherence and pharmacy care.

"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, IBM Watson. "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."

                               View full IBM infographic here.

The combined solution from the two companies will be optimized for use across a range of chronic conditions, such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Together they are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States and represent 86 percent of the $2.9 trillion in annual U.S. health spending.

The technology will be offered to entities serving the employer and health plan market. It will help predict which individuals are at risk for declining health; encourage patients to adopt safe and healthy behaviors; and suggest appropriate use of cost-effective primary care and out-patient providers.

The Watson Health Cloud makes patient data anonymous by stripping out personal identification fields in a database, Computerworld reported. The cloud combines the patient data with an aggregated view of clinical, research and social health data. CVS, as well as partners and medical researchers, can then use the data to find new connections with previously isolated health care data sets, and encourage the creation of data-driven applications designed to advance health and wellness.

For more:
-See this CVS press release
-See this IBM press release
-See this Computerworld article

Related stories:
Target, CVS partnership signals strategic shift
CVS to suffer $2B loss by kicking tobacco
CVS to create a new IT team
CVS furthers healthy focus with new Fit Choices
Cleveland Clinic teams with IBM to use Watson in genomics cancer research

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