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Harrow brings in cognitive technologies to improve social care


Harrow Council has entered into a 10-year agreement to use cognitive technologies to help people with personalised social care needs choose the best services – and monitor what they receive

The commercial agreement with IBM marks the first implementation of its Watson Care Manager outside of the USA. IBM plans to enhance its Watson Care Manager by learning from Harrow’s adult social care expertise and innovation experience in personal budgets here in the UK.

“This is the technology that every organisation is looking for as use of personal health and social care budgets increases,” said Harrow Council CEO, Michael Lockwood.

“It will help us deliver better services with better outcomes, all for less cost. 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.”

Under the Watson Care Manager system, health and social care providers bid in a competitive environment to supply a selected service and secure the contract. Subsequent payments are then automated after delivery to the user has been confirmed. Meantime, the platform maximises the workflow for care management activities such as scheduling, developing individualised care plans, managing budgets, selecting providers and enabling care.

The hope is that by integrating cognitive technologies that provide personalised insights and evidence-based guidelines and best practices, guidance will be provided to help adherence to an individualised care plan.

IBM’s director of social programs, Martin Duggan, said, “Harrow have consistently taken an innovative approach to delivering services, which makes Watson Care Manager a natural fit in advancing greater personalisation and data-driven efficiency.”

Social Care accounts for some 35% of council spending and the ageing population's costs could soon exceed all other council spending. Over the past year, the National Health Service has unveiled a number of updates on the implementation of Personal Health Budgets and the Integrated Personal Commissioning programme that combines Health and Social Care budgeting.

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