Memphis officials join forces with IBM to improve healthcare access

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Memphis, Tenn., city officials and IBM teamed up to improve healthcare access under IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge program.

The Smarter Cities Challenge program sends teams of IBM experts to select cities to provide pro bono consulting on issues like economic development, immigration or public health. Since 2010, the company has awarded Smarter Cities Challenge grants to more than 130 cities throughout the world.

IBM staff use services like cognitive analytics to understand city-level data trends. They also meet with local officials, citizens and businesses, among other stakeholders, to provide tailored recommendations.

In one project, IBM worked with Memphis officials to address emergency health services challenges. In 2016, roughly 25,000 of the 130,000 emergency calls made to 911 dispatchers were non-emergency calls, according to CityLab. Together, officials collaborated to design a plan to decrease demand and improve response times.

Based on IBM's recommendations, Memphis officials launched a program called Rapid Assessment Decision And Redirection. If someone places a non-emergency call to 911, it's redirected to RADAR, which deploys an appropriate medical provider to the caller, CityLab reports.

Other recommendations included onsite telemedicine and transportation vouchers for older residents who may call 911 for lack of reliable transit to a healthcare facility.

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