Mobile healthcare, telemedicine, telehealth, BYOD


Watson Brings mHealth Into the Workplace

IBM's supercomputer is joining forces with the American Heart Association and Welltok on two programs designed to improve employee health and workplace health.

By Eric Wicklund

- Watson’s capabilities in population-based mHealth programs are now being put to the test in the office.

IBM’s supercomputer is joining forces with the American Heart Association and Welltok in two new programs, one to measure an employee’s cardiac health and the other to gauge an office’s heart health environment. Both are designed to give targeted health analyses and advice when and where it might make the most impact.

In the first program, an employee uses Welltok’s online or mobile platform to complete the AHA’s My Life Check questionnaire, which gauges an individual’s heart health based on seven factors (called Life’s Simple 7). More importantly, the user also enters data from fitness trackers, blood pressure cuffs and scales. Combining the personal data with the questionnaire, Watson and Welltok then create a personal health score and a plan to improve one’s heart health.

Separately, the AHA has launched the Workplace Health Achievement Index, which draws on an employer’s population health data collected through Welltok and measures them against best practices and other corporate health initiatives. The resulting analysis gives each employer a guideline for measuring and improving a company’s health culture.

"With Life's Simple 7 and the Workplace Health Achievement Index, we've presented a science-based blueprint for healthy living and corporate well-being," Eduardo Sanchez, MD, MPH, the AHA’s chief medical officer for prevention, said in prepared remarks. "With this program, individuals and their employers will be able to benefit from a personalized, cognitive solution designed to help improve heart health and reduce healthcare costs. Our hope is that we can set a new standard for continuous quality improvement in workplace health."

The two programs build upon Watson Health’s cognitive analytics capabilities, which healthcare providers are using in individual and population health initiatives across the country. Among the latest is a project spearheaded by Medtronic to analyze mHealth data from diabetics and predict hypoglycemic incidents before they occur.

The AHA programs push those capabilities into the workplace – an intriguing venue for large employers and health plans looking to reduce healthcare costs and boost both wellness and productivity.

The two programs aim to address a condition that causes 1-in-3 deaths and more than $312 billion in annual healthcare costs across the globe – and which accounts for as much as a quarter of employee healthcare costs. Moreover, surveys by the AHA and Nielsen have estimated that workplace health initiatives reinforced by upper-level management are twice as likely to compel employees to eat more healthy, and 70 percent of employees surveyed said they also boost morale.

"The new era of cognitive computing has the potential to help transform personal health and well-being, and that's why we are eager to see this offering in action to support the health and wellness of the workforce," added Kyu Rhee, MD, MPP, chief health officer of IBM Watson Health. "This is the first time Watson is taking on heart health, and we look forward to working with more members of the AHA CEO Roundtable who serve as models for best in class corporate heart health initiatives."


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