IBM Watson Health and Harrow Council this week announced a 10-year agreement to use cognitive technologies to help people with personalised social care needs choose the best services. The agreement is the first of its kind with a UK local authority, and marks the first implementation of Watson Care Manager outside of the USA.
Using Harrow Council’s expertise and innovations in adult social care, IBM will enhance Watson Care Manager to enable individuals and caregivers to quickly and easily select the most appropriate provider that can deliver the services they need, using their allocated personal budget. Many social and health programmes globally require personal budgets, and Watson Care Manager’s new functionality could simplify that process for individuals beyond Harrow and the UK.
As part of the Watson Care Manager system, health and social care providers bid to supply the service and secure the contract – a process designed to stimulate competition and drive down costs. Watson Care Manager then automates payments and ensures the service has been delivered to the user. By integrating cognitive technologies that provide personalised insights and evidence-based guidelines and best practices, it will provide guidance for adherence to an individualised care plan.
Harrow Council CEO, Michael Lockwood, said: “This is the technology that every organisation is looking for as use of personal health and social care budgets increases. It will help us deliver better services with better outcomes, all for less cost. It will save money, reduce waste in the system and give people more control and flexibility over what care and health services they and their loved ones receive.”
IBM Director of Social Programs, Martin Duggan, said: “Tailoring Watson Care Manager to the needs of the UK will result in new choices being available to other local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups across the country. Harrow have consistently taken an innovative approach to delivering services, which makes Watson Care Manager a natural fit in advancing greater personalisation and data-driven efficiency.”
Social Care accounts for some 35% of council spending and the ageing population’s costs could soon exceed all other council spending. Over the past year, the National Health Service has unveiled a number of updates on the implementation of Personal Health Budgets and the Integrated Personal Commissioning programme that combines Health and Social Care budgeting. The enhanced Watson Care Manager solution is designed to create an integrated approach to health and social care that improves individual choice while meeting the requirements of NHS and other local authorities.
The platform maximises the workflow for care management activities such as scheduling, developing individualised care plans, managing budgets, selecting providers and enabling care. IBM Watson Care Manager not only provides personal insights for more impactful care plans, it provides insights for more effective use of care management resources.