Watson Health

Tackling America’s Substance Abuse Epidemic

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America’s opioid epidemic has led to the deadliest drug crisis in U.S. history. In 2015, opioid abuse was responsible for more deaths than the number of Americans killed by car crashes and gun homicides combined. This represents only a small portion of one of the greatest public health issues of our time – substance abuse.

Substance abuse and addiction, which includes everything from illicit drugs to alcohol, kills more than 125,000 people per year in the United States and can cost of up to $700 billion annually. What we must recognize is that substance abuse affects not just the victim but also impacts every American, either directly or indirectly. While 2.6 million Americans are receiving treatment, treatment too often fails and people relapse. That’s where MAP Health Management and Watson Health’s new collaboration come in.

Our mission at MAP Health Management aims to improve the outcomes of the millions of people treated for addiction and behavioral health illnesses, while reducing healthcare expense by empowering treatment providers, health insurance companies, health systems, and patients with the right data at the right time. However, one issue we’ve identified is that there are mountains of healthcare data that rarely become actionable. Data is often isolated and unstructured across different treatment continuums – in electronic medical records, paper charts and conversations with no standardized mechanism to derive actionable insights, which enable providers to deliver a better outcome.

In addressing the issue, we see demand from healthcare consumers who want better outcomes, with better access to addiction treatment and more efficient care. Health insurance companies want the ability to deliver that access to quality healthcare for their members while enjoying the cost benefits of increased member wellbeing. Providers want to demonstrate efficacy for the treatment they provide but need help utilizing the data around them to build a narrative and show the value of their care.

Our new partnership with IBM Watson Health will help tackle this gap in addiction treatment by using data and technology to understand which patients are at the greatest risk of relapse. MAP Health Management can then empower its platform users with relevant treatment and intervention resources, with the goal of ultimately helping treatment experts, care managers, and others take action before they relapse. In other words, our relationship with Watson makes our data highly actionable – which has the potential to help save lives, reduce readmission and save costs, creating better healthcare experiences.

The actionable data that should be guiding the patient’s treatment experiences are being siloed and their full story is often out of the reach of providers. There is much unstructured data in counseling session notes and tremendous value in understanding what a patient is experiencing. Currently, the unstructured data just sits there, but MAP’s collaboration with IBM Watson Health gives MAP the capability to derive meaning from it and mobilize that data to optimize the patient’s experience.

It bears repeating – every American is directly or indirectly affected by substance abuse.

The existing disease management structure leaves treatment experts, care managers, and health insurers in the dark, with no effective way to access and analyze unstructured data to identify who’s at risk, what type of help they need and which healthcare professional should be involved.

By pairing Watson’s cognitive computing abilities and MAP’s Recovery Network Platform, behavioral health and substance abuse treatment providers will be better able to predict and prevent incidence of relapse nationwide – with the goal of providing patients with a more personalized approach to treatment.

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