The American Heart Association (AHA) is working with IBM Watson and Welltok to create workplace health technology focused on improving heart health.

The new offering taps the cognitive computing power of IBM and AHA’s science-based metrics and health assessments, delivered on Welltok’s health optimisation platform.

IBM says the programme will be the first use of Watson technology for the study and prevention of cardiovascular disease.

The programme will help assess both the employer’s workplace health environment, as well as employee health based on AHA metrics. Crucial to the offering is a new Workplace Health Achievement Index, which AHA recently launched.

The Index uses best practices to measure and rank corporate health initiatives, assessing companies on their workplace health culture.

AHA’s CEO Roundtable, an organisation of some of America’s largest employers dedicated to workplace health, developed and tested the measures. IBM CEO Ginni Rometty is a member of the roundtable.

To create the new offering, IBM will tap Watson’s natural language processing, question-and-answer-capability and similarity analytics.

Furthermore, Watson will be trained on evidence-based heart health goals and measures in order to recommend specific ways employers can create heart healthy environments and engage with their employees.

Using Welltok’s platform online or via mobile, an employee could opt to complete AHA’s My Life Check questionnaire, which measures Life’s Simple 7, the key cardiovascular health indicators: not smoking, eating healthy, being physically active, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, managing blood pressure, controlling cholesterol and reducing blood sugar.

“With Life’s Simple 7 and the Workplace Health Achievement Index, we’ve presented a science-based blueprint for healthy living and corporate well-being,” said Chief Medical Officer for Prevention at AHA, Eduardo Sanchez.

“With this programme, individuals and their employers will be able to benefit from a personalised, cognitive solution designed to help improve heart health and reduce healthcare costs. Our hope is that we can set a new standard for continuous quality improvement in workplace health,” continued Sanchez.

Welltok leverages consumer insights gained from questionnaires and data collected via wearable fitness trackers, wireless-enabled scales and blood pressure cuffs to provide personalised recommendations to help the individual make healthy choices that could reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.

Data from the Workplace Health Achievement Index and the application for Life’s Simple 7 will be de-identified and stored in the Watson Health Cloud.

“The new era of cognitive computing has the potential to help transform personal health and well-being, and that’s why we are eager to see this offering in action to support the health and wellness of the workforce,” said Chief Health Officer of IBM Watson Health, Kyu Rhee.

A new study by AHA and Nielsen found that employees who feel encouraged by senior leadership to participate in workplace health programmes are approximately twice as likely to eat healthy, and 69% report that workplace health initiatives have a strong impact on job satisfaction.

AHA research has shown that attaining a high Life’s Simple 7 score can help reduce risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer and many other health problems. People who reach ideal health for all seven metrics by age 50 may have significantly lower lifetime risk of heart disease and stroke.

“By putting this innovative programme in the hands of consumers, we are guiding them at a personal level to maintain, and even improve their health status,” said Chairman and CEO of Welltok, Jeff Margolis.

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