New Watson Health focus targets healthcare consumers

IBM Watson Health will enter the healthcare consumer market by using the online CafeWell Health Optimization wellness platform from Welltok to identify consumers at risk for illness and build a personalized health plan.

Employers, hospitals and health plans are the target audience, Watson Health executives say.

IBM, which has been using Watson Health to focus on clinical care and provide decision support to physicians, used its employees as a test bed for the consumer initiative.

Big Blue had an ongoing relationship with Welltok that evolved over time, and when IBM was looking for a consumer health platform for its employees, it became a Welltok customer and now is a joint partner in expanding Watson Health, says Dan Spirek, senior vice president and general manager of CafeWell.

Dan Spirek

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Welltok brings its CafeWell platform to develop personalized wellness programs, which are supported with mobile apps, medical devices and text messages to keep consumers engaged. For example, it offers incentives, such as gift cards for participating in a health quiz, risk assessment, a wellness examination and other activities that contribute to meeting wellness goals.

The Welltok platform is populated with demographic and clinical history data on 280 million people and that information is run through health risk assessment software to tailor content and care plans to specific individuals, Spirek explains.

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Watson Health is a “learning machine” that is constantly being fed content. It can recognize if an individual is making progress with his or her care plan. If a person’s progress is insufficient, Watson can figure out the best way to engage the individual or develop a different care plan that may be more engaging, Spirek adds.

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