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Greater Philadelphia Hospitals Leverage Technology To Improve Patient Care

Leading health-care institutions in Greater Philadelphia leverage innovation and technology to transform patient care.

By Nan Bauroth on January 29, 2014

Imagine an app that could help speed patient transport and lower costs by matching and dispatching idle transportation resources. Thanks to DreamItHealth, Philadelphia’s first health-care accelerator, a startup named Stat now has resources to turn this inventive concept into a reality.

Stat is just one of 10 promising new ventures selected for DreamItHealth, co-sponsored by Independence Blue Cross and Penn Medicine, two of Greater Philadelphia’s leading companies in the health-care arena.

“At IBC, we are working to transform the Philadelphia region into a national magnet for health-care innovation, investment and employment,” says Daniel J. Hilferty, president and CEO of IBC.

IBC’s Patient-Centered Homes

The health-care matrix in Greater Philadelphia includes 120 hospitals and 15 major health systems that serve both as drivers of innovation and engines of economic growth. As the leading insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania, Independence Blue Cross has pioneered in the creation of 200 patient-centered homes.

“Quality and value in health-care begin with strong primary care,” Hilferty says. “One way we’re changing the game is through our support of medical home practices that provide more coordinated, personalized care.”

The results are tangible. A three-year IBC study showed significant reductions in medical costs for patients with chronic conditions who were treated in primary-care practices that have been transformed into patient-centered homes. For instance, diabetics had 21 percent lower total medical costs, driven by a 44 percent reduction in hospital costs.

Much of this success is attributed to physicians relying on real-time data provided by IBC to identify patients overdue for screening and preventive tests.

“IBC has invested significantly in building an informatics infrastructure to provide practices with information about gaps in important care and overall quality outcomes,” says Somesh Nigam, chief informatics officer of IBC.

Leveraging Technology

Virtua, a comprehensive health-care system with four hospitals in southern New Jersey, is also leveraging technology to develop more efficient delivery platforms.

In 2013, InformationWeek ranked Virtua among the top 500 technology innovators in the United States. In addition, all four Virtua acute-care hospitals have achieved Stage 6 designation of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Analytics Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Adoption Model.

Virtua’s newest hospital, the Vorhees Campus, has improved access to care by providing acute and outpatient care in one location. 

The campus offers numerous specialties and is known for its maternity services and Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit, separate pediatric and adult emergency rooms, and the Total Joint Replacement Institute, says Virtua President and CEO Richard P. Miller.

Virtua also benefits from its partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for specialty and emergency pediatric care and with Fox Chase Cancer Center for advanced cancer treatment, Miller says.

Research Powerhouse

Greater Philadelphia is home to Penn Medicine, one of the world’s leading academic medical centers. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.3 billion enterprise.

Penn Medicine’s partnering with IBC on the DreamIt accelerator exemplifies its commitment to transforming the health-care landscape.

“Innovation in health care is essential to our ability to provide patients with the most advanced treatments available, so we’re excited to see such a high level of prowess from these startups,” says Ralph Muller, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn Medicine was also recently chosen by IBC to collaborate on research initiatives into some of today’s most pressing health issues, including new approaches to improve medical adherence for heart attack survivors and to understand how genomic testing can be used to improve clinical outcomes and lower cancer care costs.

“We saw IBC as a natural partner for Penn because of its high-quality informatics capabilities,” Muller says. “We’ve enjoyed collaborating with IBC on a number of initiatives, as we believe that combining resources and perspectives across the leading payer and provider in the region creates opportunities for meaningful innovation.”

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