Harrow Council Integrates Watson AI Into Social Care Pilot

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The cognitive technology is to help individuals and carers manage personal health budgets

Harrow Council has concluded a ten-year, first-of-its-kind deal with IBM to expand an in-house prototype social care scheme using IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence technology.

Harrow’s My Community e-Purse (MCeP) pilot scheme, which currently has about 1,000 users, allows service providers to bid for services in order to promote competition and drive down costs.

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Budget management

The system is used by individuals and caregivers with allocated Personal Health Budgets, in which they are given a budget by the NHS and are then responsible for selecting and paying for their own care providers.

IBM’s Watson Care Manager software-as-a-service is to be integrated into the system in order to help users select the most appropriate provider, and will then automate payments and ensure the service is being delivered as required.

Individual care budgets are being increasingly used by health programmes internationally and Watson Care Manager could be used to simplify the care management process for users outside of Harrow and the UK, the council noted.

“It will help us deliver better services with better outcomes, all for less cost,” said Harrow Council chief executive Michael Lockwood. “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.”

Broader application

The council said the deal is the first of its kind in the UK and the first implementation of Watson Care Manager outside the US.

“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,” said IBM director of social programmes Martin Duggan.

IBM opened a new headquarters for Watson Health last year and has recently applied the cognitive technology in areas as diverse as cloud collaboration and Wimbledon 2016’s social media usage.

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