CVS will test the technology, from International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), on existing medical and pharmacy claims data to see if any telling trends surface, said Troyen Brennan, executive vice president and chief medical officer of CVS Health. The goal is to better predict which individuals are at risk for declining health and encourage patients to adhere to medicinal regimens.
See also: WellPoint recruits Dr. Watson
CVS is among a handful of early IBM partners looking to make better use of health care data with the tech company’s Watson technology, which can analyze troves of information for trends and answer questions in a natural language. Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM has been trying to drum up business for the recently commercialized tool.
“The first stage of this really is discovery,” Brennan said. “We’ve got to see what the machine can turn up.”
Using the Watson technology is an extension of CVS’s efforts to analyze its massive quantity of data on customers’ prescriptions and medical backgrounds. The health care company currently uses that information for such purposes as contacting a patient’s doctor if she hasn’t filled a prescription.
Yet Brennan said there’s potentially more that can be done with the data that CVS has accumulated by being the No. 2 manager of pharmacy benefits, after Express Scripts Holding Co. (Nasdaq:EXRX). The company also has about 7,800 drug stores, struck a deal last month to take over more than 1,660 pharmacies from Target Corp., and operates about 1,000 walk-in clinics with plans to expand to about 1,500 by 2017.