CVS Health's latest big move: Partnering with IBM's Watson

Companies hope for 'realistic interventions' in one to two years

CVS Health and IBM announced on Thursday they are partnering to bring IBM's Watson technology to CVS Health providers and other entities in an effort to improve care management for patients with chronic conditions.

The Watson computing system can analyze large amounts of information, develop knowledge over time, and interpret and evaluate data.

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Details of project

Under the collaboration, the companies are aiming to develop a system that could:

  • Predict health declines for conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity;
  • Prevent costly and unnecessary interventions;
  • Provide more personalized care; and
  • Help patients with medication adherence and maintain healthy lifestyles.

The system would draw on environmental factors, pharmacy and claims information, and data from electronic health records and fitness devices. It would be available to CVS Health clinicians, as well as insurers and "other entities serving the employer and health plan market," the companies said.

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CVS Health CMO Troyen Brennan says the first stage of the project will involve creating and testing algorithms to determine if they improve patient outcomes, and that he hopes to see "realistic interventions" in one to two years.

The companies could eventually develop applications and wearables to provide patients with the most current data about their health and tools to manage their conditions, says Shahram Ebadollahi, VP of innovation at IBM's Watson Health.

IBM Watson SVP Mike Rhodin claims that the analytic capabilities of Watson, combined with CVS Health's knowledge of patient behavior and medication use, could prove transformative (Calfas, USA Today, 7/30; Eunjung Cha, "To Your Health," Washington Post, 7/30; CVS Health release, 7/30).

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