UPMC, the huge Pittsburgh-based health care network, developed an important enhancement to its telehealth program.
It deployed a comprehensive cloud-based platform that will facilitate virtual care visits to those with chronic diseases.

Initially, the program from Vivify Health, Plano, Texas, was deployed across two service lines: patients with congestive heart failure and those in the UPMC Health Plan’s advanced-illness care program. The system enables patients to transmit biometric data and other information easily through any consumer mobile device directly to care teams for analysis and rapid follow-up.

“We’ve been working on a large programmatic redesign for two years and vendor selection was part of it, but we’ve developed a model that supports chronic care management using all of these tools we have at home such as survey questions, weight, blood pressure and pulse oximetry data,” says Andrew Watson, M.D., medical director of telemedicine and vice president of UPMC International.

The data are captured and transmitted by patients from their homes or wherever they travel using kits provided by UPMC that contain off-the-shelf devices or via the patient’s personal mobile devices.

“As all of this rich data comes in, we will look at it, triage it, memorialize it in our electronic health record systems and feed it up to the front lines of medicine for real-time decision-making,” Watson explains.

If all goes as expected, the program will reduce readmissions and entry to UPMC facilities through the emergency department, improve clinical efficiency while streamlining communications and achieving higher levels of patient engagement and satisfaction.

As an integrated health care provider and insurer, UPMC for more than a decade now has honed its remote patient-monitoring strategies. It’s all part of UPMC’s long-standing mission to continuously improve patient outcomes, increase efficiency and reduce costs. It also explains why UPMC Enterprises — the innovation and commercialization arm of UPMC — decided to make a significant financial stake in Vivify Health as it became a customer of the company.

“What we saw in Vivify was a young company that had a product set that would fit both our health services division and help our health plan do a better job of providing services,” says C. Talbot Heppenstall Jr., president of UPMC Enterprises. “And by becoming an investor, it simply tightens the relationship between UPMC and Vivify Health. Our incentives are aligned to ensure that [Vivify Health’s] product road map rolls out quickly and is extremely successful by being tested and used here everyday.”

For Vivify Health, which has contracts with health systems representing more than 500 hospitals, the project is significant as well, says Eric Rock, the company’s CEO.

“Working with a leading integrated payer and provider organization is very exciting for Vivify. We have the opportunity to demonstrate Vivify’s ability to shape behaviors for the rising risk population, while reducing acute utilization for the high-risk population. Also, as payer and provider organizations begin to work ever more closely together, it becomes more and more critical to have tools that can be leveraged across both organizations to improve outcomes and reduce costs,” Rock says.