IBM Watson Care Manager helps court better serve youth

By and Tricia Lucido | 4 minute read | October 5, 2017

Note:  This is part one of a two-part series on IBM Watson Care Manager for specialty courts.

Our goal at the Juvenile Court of Montgomery County, Ohio, is to keep kids alive until they’re old enough to make decisions on their own. We feel as if almost every child is directly or indirectly at risk today because of drugs, abuse and other issues. When we can’t rely on the family to take care of them, it’s our role to become like a surrogate parent. We give them a chance to survive until they’re an adult and able to make it on their own.

Information changes lives

As the Juvenile Court Judge, I decide what will happen with at-risk youth today, tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. Every decision I make affects that child and family long term. So, if I make a mistake today, it can dramatically change their lives tomorrow. That’s why I need the best and most timely information as I sit on the bench and make a decision.

For every youth in the system, we have a skilled team of professionals that focuses on doing what is best to meet the needs of that individual. Everyone on the team provides reports and updates. But sometimes it seems like too much information. I get files from treatment providers, therapists, the police department, probation officers and others. And the information is always coming in, even in the middle of the night.

We needed a way to bring all that material together, and to have it available to me in the courtroom. When I sit on the bench, I have about ten minutes with each child and family. I don’t want to spend that time looking up documents or listening to updates to reports filed days before. But I need that information, because what I learn about what happened at midnight or 5 a.m. may change my decision on what to do for the child in front of me today.

Ultimately, I want to know about anything that helps me do my job better and quicker on behalf of children and families. That’s why I was intrigued by IBM Watson Care Manager.

 Watson Care Manager harnesses case information

When I met the IBM team in 2016, I saw the Watson Care Manager solution’s capability. I also saw the possibility that it could help me make a difference for children and families in Montgomery County.

I was able to work closely as a design partner with the Watson Care Manager team to configure the solution to the specific needs of the Montgomery County Juvenile Court. The system had to be easy to use, not just for me, but for the providers, therapists and so on. For example, I knew that if my probation officers had to input their reports twice, they wouldn’t use it.

 Viewpoint from the probation team

Tricia Lucido:  As the probation team manager, I can confirm that the team wants to use Watson Care Manager because it’s user-friendly, engaging, and has bright and easy interfaces. It also saves them time. We don’t need to make last minute changes to reports and then bring them to the judge. The officers simply input information in the system, and they’re available to him or anyone else on the team, immediately. If something happens in the middle of the night, he can be aware of a situation when he opens his computer the next morning.

Watson Care Manager interfaces with the county’s case management system, pulling both structured data and free text in natural language from case files. The Watson solution provides up-to-the-minute summaries of relevant information. Watson can also show patterns for things such as drug use. These patterns help the judge and team understand the ups and downs in the child’s life.

Achieving positive juvenile court outcomes

As a judge, I make some tough decisions. But when I have a treatment court graduation, I sometimes cry. I’m just so happy that I’ve been able to have a positive impact on this child and the family. When they first come and see me, kids don’t like me, and, frankly, the parents don’t like me, either. I’m just “the system” causing trouble for a family. But at graduation, when I can see a child literally hug their parent or grandparent, I know I’ve made a difference.

Watson Care Manager is now part of helping us help families in the Montgomery County Juvenile Court. After all, when we see that kid who’s finally off drugs or the family that’s reunified, that’s what it’s all about.

See more about how the Montgomery, Ohio, Juvenile Court is using Watson Care Manager to help improve the lives of at-risk children by watching the video interview below with Judge Anthony Capizzi and Tricia Lucido:

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