NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In an effort to improve patient care, CVS Health (CVS) - Get Report and IBM (IBM) - Get Report have teamed up to use Watson technology to better serve patients with chronic conditions.
In the joint venture, Watson, IBM's cognitive computing platform, will compile, process and compute information from medical health records, pharmacy and medical claims information, and fitness devices. That information will then be provided to CVS health practitioners to enable them to better help their patients track and meet health care goals.
An IBM executive said the company is "working aggressively on the development, and anticipates having a solution in market next year."
The program is designed for patients with chronic conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and obesity, which account for 86% of the nation's $2.9 trillion in annual health spending, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The companies said the goals of the program are to predict chronic health declines before they happen, provide personalized care and prevent unnecessary health care costs.
"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," Mike Rhodin, senior vice president of IBM Watson, said in a statement. "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."
The partnership could have a major impact on those with chronic diseases. CVS has 7,600 retail drug stores, almost 1,000 walk-in medical clinics and a pharmacy benefits program that includes more than 70 million members.
IBM Watson unveiled its Watson Health business unit along with its Watson Health Cloud in April, signaling the start of the artificial intelligence system's foray into the medical field.
As part of that announcement, IBM unveiled partnerships with Apple (AAPL) - Get Report, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Get Report, Medtronic (MDT) - Get Report and others to better extract data for Watson from both consumer and professional medical devices. The company said as more fitness-related devices become available, the average person could generate more than 1 million GB worth of health-related data over the course of a lifetime.
IBM acquired health management companies Explorys and Phytel to specifically help boost Watson's ability to collect Big Data. In a release, Rhodin said the acquisitions have allowed Watson to "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."
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.