IBM Watson Health and MAP Health Management are partnering to improve care and support for substance abuse disorders, with a focus of preventing the likelihood that patients will suffer relapses to past behaviors.

The cognitive technologies of IBM Watson Health will be integrated into MAP’s Recovery Network Platform, with the goal of bringing Watson’s capabilities to the process of being better able to predict and prevent incidences of relapse.

MAP delivers technology-enabled solutions, including telehealth and other remote engagement devices and applications that improve clinical and financial outcomes for chronic behavioral health disorders; it works with treatment providers, insurers, health systems and patients to improve care.

Embedding Watson technologies into MAP’s platform will enable users to unlock and more easily act upon insights from patient data that were previously hidden and overlooked. For example, case notes from a treatment expert or care manager can often be omitted or lost as part of an increasingly automated treatment process because they are retained as unstructured data with which traditional tools can’t interact.

The technology partners say that Aetna Behavioral Health is expected to deploy the Watson-powered MAP offering to help predict substance abuse relapses among its members. MAP and Aetna are working together in conjunction with addiction treatment providers to collect and analyze patient data to improve the development of treatment protocols and long-term strategies to support patients to achieve and remain in recovery.

The collection and application of these valuable outcomes data will help fill a current void in the addiction treatment field and drive better quality results across the care continuum, executives from MAP and Aetna say.

“The current method of assessing, treating and paying for addiction and substance care isn’t sustainable. It’s time to leverage an advanced cognitive technology platform like IBM Watson to help make the right evidence-based decisions to best treat those suffering from addiction. This could help patients manage their disease more effectively over the long term,” said Jacob Levenson, CEO of MAP Health Management.

In taking aim at addiction and substance abuse, Watson Health and MAP are looking to reduce medical complications that take more than 125,000 lives per year in the U.S. and result in total estimated economic costs of $700 billion per year. MAP data show that only 2.6 million Americans are receiving treatment out of 22.5 million Americans who have substance abuse disorders.

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