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Highmark expands partnership with CMU’s Disruptive Health Technology Institute

June 24, 2013 8:14 am by | 0 Comments

deal shake hands

Highmark Inc. and its new Allegheny Health Network are expanding their partnership with Carnegie Mellon University's new health care improvement lab, called the Disruptive Health Technology Institute.

The organizations plan to announce details of the partnership this morning.

In May, CMU, Highmark and AHN announced a six-month initiative, led by Alan Russell, the Highmark distinguished career professor at CMU's Institute for Complex Engineered Systems, and an adviser at Highmark, to "increas[e] the simplicity, affordability and accessibility of health care through science and engineering."

That six-month partnership is expected to be formalized into a multiyear investment, according to an official with knowledge of the arrangement.

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Dr. Russell will continue to lead the effort; on Monday, other Highmark and CMU officials will explain their role in the expanded partnership.

Dr. Russell was founding director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, serving there from 2001 to 2011.

Officials at Highmark and CMU hope that the two organizations can use Highmark's deep reservoir of real health utilization and outcomes data and CMU's talent base to improve the health of the region, developing "strategic science and engineering driven programs in multiple areas," according to a May announcement from CMU.

In the health care field, so-called "disruptive" technologies are those that have the potential to alter the status quo, upending the way things are commonly done in the industry. An article in the Harvard Business Review cites the example of at-home blood sugar testing as a "disruptive" advance in medical technologies.

Before 1980, patients with diabetes used less-accurate urine tests or routinely had blood samples taken to measure glucose levels via expensive lab equipment.

"Today, patients pack miniature blood glucose meters with them wherever they go ... They get far higher quality care far more conveniently, even though the companies that made the large laboratory blood-glucose testers were all driven from the market, and endocrinologists now face significantly reduced demand," the article explains.

In April, Highmark officially christened the Allegheny Health Network, the name given to Highmark's new health provider wing, which includes the West Penn Allegheny Health System, Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Saint Vincent Health System in Erie and several specialty health practices.

Bill Toland: 412-263-2625 or at [email protected] ___

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