man presenting to small audience (turquoise effect)

IBM Health Corps and Calderdale Council

2015
United Kingdom

In Calderdale, UK, the average lifespan of residents varies by almost 10 years between wards. A key reason for that is low levels of physical activity: 32% of Calderdale citizens are rarely physically active. Calderdale Council asked IBM for help to increase residents’ physical activity levels and reduce health disparities between wards.

At the end of three weeks, the IBM Health Corps team developed a roadmap to help the Council more effectively partner with community leaders and residents to drive policy change and enhance opportunities for residents to engage in physical activity. The IBM team also recommended implementing a data framework that will improve the collection, visualization and analysis of structured and unstructured data sources. This data will facilitate more-informed and strategic decision-making by the Council to promote physical activity, health and wellness.

The IBM team initiated this analysis by applying IBM Watson cognitive technology to analyze unstructured social care case notes on two vulnerable populations – foster youth and older people – and draw out themes related to physical activity. The Council is using insights from this analysis to work with health and social care professionals to implement effective physical activity programs for key groups, including older people.

Following their IBM Health Corps engagement, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council has moved forward quickly to implement an Active Borough Calderdale strategy, guided by their IBM team’s recommendations. The Council has identified increasing physical activity as one of its key transformation programmes.

Guided by an Active Calderdale steering committee that was created based on the IBM team’s recommendations, the Council has introduced a diverse array of new opportunities for residents to be active, tailored to the needs and interests of different communities. For example, residents can participate in new outdoors zumba classes and join a popular Bollywood dancing club, or take classes to learn to swim or bike in a supportive environment. Students are using “walking buses” to safely walk to school with parent chaperones, and residents with disabilities have new activity options tailored to their needs. Building on the success of the weekly Parkrun in Halifax, which regularly draws over a hundred runners on Saturday mornings, the Council is also starting a second Parkrun in the Brighouse area. A test run held in August 2016 attracted over 160 people.

Thanks to these efforts, Calderdale has increased participation in physical activity more rapidly than surrounding regions. In the first 12 months after the IBM project ended, over fifteen hundred Calderdale residents have participated in one or more of these new opportunities for physical activity.

The Council is continuing to build on these encouraging initial results. Additional initiatives underway include development of a digital platform to enable residents to quickly find activities that match their schedules and interests, working with the private sector to increase access to the area’s developing rock climbing sites, and working across many organisations to develop a cycling strategy for the borough.

Calderdale will be hosting a one year anniversary event to celebrate progress and set milestones for the next 12 months of work on the 28th of September, 2016.

“We’ve been fascinated during this project to see how Watson can be applied. We don’t tend to think of free- form text as a source of data, and our work with IBM has really broadened our minds as to what is data, what is information and how can we turn that into a usable tool to help guide our interventions. We found Watson absolutely mind blowing.”

Merran McRae Chief Executive, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council

Team Members

david clarkson 1474894739

David Clarkson

Client Executive - UK Healthcare

IBM Sales & Distribution, Enterprise

United Kingdom

David Clarkson

Client Executive - UK Healthcare

IBM Sales & Distribution, Enterprise

United Kingdom

IBM Health Corps Team:

melissa geissler

Melissa Geissler

Associate Partner - Healthcare Industry

IBM Global Business Services

United States

Melissa Geissler

Associate Partner - Healthcare Industry

IBM Global Business Services

United States

IBM Health Corps Team:

timothy pavlick

Timothy Pavlick, PhD

US Public Sector Chief Technology Officer

IBM Global Business Services

United States

Timothy Pavlick, PhD

US Public Sector Chief Technology Officer

IBM Global Business Services

United States

IBM Health Corps Team:

dejan radeka

Dejan Radeka

Senior Solution Architect

IBM Watson Group

United States

Dejan Radeka

Senior Solution Architect

IBM Watson Group

United States

IBM Health Corps Team:

elise smith

Elise Smith

Education Lead, Business Development & Partnerships, Watson Ecosystem

IBM Watson

United States

Elise Smith

Education Lead, Business Development & Partnerships, Watson Ecosystem

IBM Watson

United States

IBM Health Corps Team:

steve welch

Steve Welch

Distinguished Engineer, Evidence Discovery Systems

IBM Watson Group

United States

Steve Welch

Distinguished Engineer, Evidence Discovery Systems

IBM Watson Group

United States

IBM Health Corps Team:

Project Champions

Merran McRae

Chief Executive

Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council

Paul Butcher

Director of Public Health

Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council

Councillor Tim Swift

Leader of the Council

Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council