UPMC Enterprises' headquarters in Bakery Square. Courtesy of UPMC Enterprises.

We all feel the pain of health care costs—customers and providers alike. 

“Health care is a huge industry, and costs are escalating through the roof,” says Dr. Rasu Shrestha, EVP and chief innovation officer of UPMC Enterprises, a newly-branded group at UPMC which integrates technology with medicine to improve the quality of health care.  “Quality of care often is not so great compared to our peers in the top 20 countries,” he offers. “There’s a lot that we can do in the industry.”

That includes bringing down the cost of health care.

Formerly part of the UPMC Technology Development Center, UPMC Enterprises works with homegrown startups, universities and partners to develop and refine technology that provide innovative solutions in the health care industry. As an example, the group is partnering with University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University to leverage big data to improve patient care.

“If you’re working with us at UPMC Enterprises, you don’t have to have a stethoscope around your neck to save a patient’s life,” says Shrestha. Innovators work as a team, he explains, drawing insights from clinicians to coders.

The offices at UPMC Enterprises. Courtesy of UPMC Enterprises.
The offices at UPMC Enterprises. Courtesy of UPMC Enterprises.

“Over the years we’ve gotten better at innovating and looking at these pain points to find the right solutions,” Shrestha says. “The last year culminated with us birthing what we’re calling UPMC Enterprises, which has been around for awhile, but we’ve pulled it all together in the last year in this new persona.”

The mission of UPMC Enterprises is to build bridges between health care professionals, technologists and innovators to create change in the way we use technology in health care. Many of the innovations being developed now focus on leveraging data to make better decisions about patient care.

The group has already implemented a program with UPMC Health Plan to help track the enormous amounts of data the health care provider receives. Data is leveraged intelligently through software, saving time and revealing patterns that could help inform future care for patients.

The radiology reading room at UPMC Enterprises' office. Courtesy of UPMC Enterprises.
The radiology reading room at UPMC Enterprises’ office. Courtesy of UPMC Enterprises.
The radiology reading room at UPMC Enterprises’ office. Courtesy of UPMC Enterprises.

Shrestha explains that while data is an asset, there is so much of it that clinicians waste time trying to decode it all.

“As a clinician, I can tell you, one of the realities of health care today is that we’re data rich, and information poor.” With that in mind, UPMC Enterprises is developing solutions with partners and forming strategic partnerships with companies that help doctors translate data into valuable information that can help decide the course of care with a patient. When interpreting data is out of the physician’s hands, he or she can spend more time working with the patient.

“I shouldn’t be spending 10 out of the 15 minutes that I have with a patient struggling with technology, piecing information,” says Shrestha. “I should be spending the majority of the time, if not all of it, interacting with the patient. It’ll be some time yet before we create an algorithm for empathy.”

Another goal is to spread the word about their work. “We want to share our expertise and inspire more innovation. We want to get UPMC Enterprises’ name out there while promoting the best of what Pittsburgh can bring to the table,” says Shrestha.

As part of that effort, and to support Pittsburgh’s young innovators and entrepreneurs, UPMC Enterprises is sponsoring the upcoming Thrival Innovation + Music festival. On September 24th, and in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute, the group will host a three-hour session at its Bakery Square office with the theme of Health & Wellness. The session will include presentations from their leadership team and a pitch session from a select group of health-minded startups.

As UPMC Enterprises develops, the team hopes to continue building partnerships with startups, universities and innovators in the Pittsburgh area. “We all work as one team. This is a melting pot of talent and technology and innovative ideas,” says Shrestha. “If you have an idea that you think will move the needle in the way that care is being delivered, then come talk to us.”

Emma Diehl is a writer, blogger, and social media marketer working in tech and startups in Pittsburgh. She loves local craft beer and a well-crafted pun.