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CVS, IBM team up to improve patient care

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Partnership to leverage IBM Watson Health cognitive computing platform

WOONSOCKET, R.I. and ARMONK, N.Y. — CVS Health and IBM are pooling their expertise in predictive analytics and leveraging the information technology giant’s Watson cognitive computing platform to improve care management for patients with chronic diseases.


CVS Health’s Troy Brennan

The companies said Thursday that the partnership will enable health care practitioners to quickly and easily gain insights from stores of health data across a range of sources — such as medical health records, pharmacy and medical claims information, environmental factors and fitness devices — to help people stay on track with their care and meet health goals.

Watson, the first commercially available cognitive computing system, analyzes high volumes of data, understands complex questions posed in natural language and proposes evidence-based answers. It continuously learns from previous interactions, gaining in value and knowledge over time. According to IBM, developers and partners are building apps and services that harness cognitive computing to help professionals do their jobs better and solve key challenges.

In health care, the IBM Watson Health unit is employing its Watson Health Cloud platform to help doctors, researchers and insurers gain new insights from the troves of personal health data created daily. The platform enables this information to be de-identified, shared and combined with a dynamic, aggregated view of clinical, research and social health data.

The partnership unites IBM’s Watson Health Cloud and cognitive computing capabilities with both companies’ expertise in predictive analytics and patient engagement. CVS Health also brings 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,” CVS Health executive vice president and chief medical officer Troy Brennan said. “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.”

The joint CVS Health/IBM Watson Health solution will be optimized for use across a range of chronic conditions. The offering, to be made available to insurers and other entities serving the employer and health plan market, will focus on predicting people 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 recommending the use of cost-effective primary care and outpatient providers.

CVS and IBM noted that chronic diseases like hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and obesity are the nation’s top causes of death and disability and represent 86% of its annual health spending of $2.9 trillion.

“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 at 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. 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.”


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