Humana teams with IBM to offer Watson AI assistant for employer plan members

Humana building
Humana is teaming up with IBM to offer an artificial intelligence benefits tool to its employer plan members. (Humana)

Humana is joining forces with IBM to deploy its Watson technology to assist members in better understanding their health benefits.

The insurer will offer the Watson Assistant for Health Benefits to its 1.3 million employer medical plan members and 1.8 million employer dental plan members, the company announced Wednesday.

The tool harnesses a conversational artificial intelligence that can help members track their benefits and coverage, claims, provider referrals and cost information through a rapid chat interface, according to the announcement.

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The platform will also learn about members as they interact with it, leading to improved accuracy and personalization, Humana said. 

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“Humana is excited to team up with IBM Watson Health to help our employer-customers and their employees better manage their healthcare benefits and costs through a more innovative, personalized experience,” said Chris Hunter, segment president of Humana’s group and military business, in a statement.

“By harnessing the power of artificial intelligence fused with embedded analytics in the Watson Health platform, we can help our employer customers, members, agents and broker partners enhance their knowledge so they can all make more informed decisions," Hunter said.

Humana is also planning to deploy the Watson assistant for its own employees and call center workers, allowing them to answer members' plans more quickly and freeing up time for them to provide "concierge-level" service.

“Navigating our health coverage without the right support can potentially serve as a barrier to care. An AI-enabled conversational agent that is trained to understand health plan benefits logic can play a role in helping to simplify complex or possibly confusing plan information,” said Paul Roma, general manager of IBM Watson Health, in a statement. “We are proud to support Humana in leading the effort to deploy conversational AI to help enhance and improve the consumer experience.”