IBM and Aetna Launch Health Care Support Service

IBM, Aetna Launch Health Care Support Service
IBM, Aetna Launch Health Care Support Service

IBM (IBM) and Aetna's (AET) ActiveHealth Management subsidiary on Thursday jointly launched the Collaborative Care Solution, a new cloud-computing and clinical-decision support system that aims to improve medical practices at hospitals, helping them provide better-quality care at a lower cost.

"Our health care system needs solutions that can help physicians collect, connect, analyze and act on all the information available to improve a patient's health. Our solution makes this possible in real-time at the point that care is delivered," said Greg Steinberg, CEO of ActiveHealth Management, in a statement.

The companies will have to overcome resistance from doctors, who have been slow in adopting IT solutions even as the Obama administration has been pushing the health care industry toward electronic record-keeping, awarding incentives and grants.

The new service, the companies say, would help physicians and other health care professionals to quickly access patient information such as medical records, claims, medication and lab data gathered from multiple sources to create a detailed patient record.

Taking Aim at $800 Billion in Waste

The service, which incorporates IBM's cloud computing platform and ActiveHealth's evidence-based clinical decision support CareEngine, can also show trends in how patients are responding to treatments and automatically alert doctors to conflicting or missed prescriptions. This can help doctors make more-informed and accurate treatment decisions faster, as well as reduce medical mistakes and costs.

"The health care industry is under tremendous pressure to reduce costs while improving quality of care," said Robert Merkel, VP and health care industry leader of IBM Global Business Services. The Collaborative Care Solution could help health care providers cut spending on ineffective treatments and unnecessary tests, the companies said. They cited a recent study by Thomson Reuters showing that approximately $800 billion is wasted each year in the U.S. on health care considered ineffective.

Additionally, the service can help physicians and health care organizations measure their performance against national or hospital quality standards. By demonstrating higher quality, lower-cost care physicians can obtain higher reimbursement rates from payers.

Big Blue's focus has been turning more and more from hardware to software and services, and it sees the health care market as a key business opportunity, Reuters reports. The overall health IT market is estimated at around $20 billion.