UPMC, IBM team to transform healthcare quality and cost

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IBM and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) have announced a new eight-year, $402 million agreement aimed at tackling some of the large issues facing the healthcare system today such as quality control and cost. The partnership will focus on building on-demand technologies in a marketable model that would increase the healthcare industry's ability to deal with these challenges, according to a release.
   
The initial joint investment will be $50 million for both parties, with the potential of $200 by the end of the agreement.
   
UPMC's current electronic health record strategy uses existing technology to facilitate the spread of data across their network, and it is this network that will be the base for the new medical technologies that IBM and UPMC plan to develop over the span of the project. Key areas of focus will be electronic patient records, biosecurity and information-based medicine, IBM said.
   
Projected operational savings for UPMC once these initiatives are put in place are between 15 and 20 percent per year while capacity is expected to go up. Other expected efficiencies are the reduction of operating systems from nine to three, dropping from 786 servers to 305, decreasing storage arrays from 40 to 2, and an overall shrinking of equipment by two-thirds, IBM said.
   
IBM and UPMC expect to work collaboratively to commercialize products in the following areas:

  • Biosecurity Information - to assist healthcare organizations in dealing with large-scale epidemics or bioterrorist attacks.

  • Intelligent Hospital Project - new technologies working together with the electronic health record for more efficient care.
  • Cancer Institute Information-Based Project - A UPMC project with the National Cancer Institutes caBIG (cancer bioinformatics grid), for which IBM will contribute hardware and technology.
  • Safe and Lean Hospital Project - Using its quantitative tools, IBM will evaluate operational areas such as emergency rooms (ER), operating rooms (OR) and ambulatory care to increase safety and improve efficiency.