The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has been in the business of launching businesses for more than 20 years, focusing on clinical tools, population health, consumer-centric healthcare, and business services and infrastructure.
The latest to launch is Curavi Health, whose telemedicine cart and software offer nursing homes after-hours video and audio access to geriatricians to help determine whetherresident hospitalization is necessary. During a two-year pilot in Pittsburgh-area nursing homes, Curavi helped prevent 108 needless hospital transfers, preventing harm to residents and saving payers thousands of dollars, according to the company.
To date, UPMC has launched about 60 healthcare companies, nearly all involving IT. It currently has some ownership in 15 companies, all in healthcare, and almost all in healthcare IT. Back in 1996, it was an insurance company that it launched called UPMC Health Plan, in 1996. The insurer generated revenue of $6.1 billion in 2016, according to Tal Heppenstall, president of UPMC Enterprises, the commercialization and innovation arm of UPMC.
Heppenstall, a former investment banker who also serves as UPMC’s treasurer, answered a few questions about this aspect of UPMC’s work.
MedCity: What types of companies attract UPMC Enterprises’ attention?
Heppenstall: The focus is really on technology companies that solve healthcare problems. We really look for companies that are going to solve problems for UPMC.
MedCity: How does UPMC Enterprises differ from other healthcare-based business investment companies?
We feel that our biggest advantage as an investor is what I call ‘become the first customer.’ We bring it into UPMC and help it grow with UPMC as a customer. People respond when they see UPMC is using a company. In general, the amount that we invest is larger than our peers’. I think we’re willing to take more risk.
MedCity: Does the company have interests outside UPMC?
Yes. In addition to the portfolio companies, we also started the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance, a joint effort with us, the University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University. We take research out of all those universities and commercialize it.
MedCity: What sorts of companies will UPMC Enterprises focus on going forward?
UPMC is a very big place and we do almost everything that can be done in healthcare. I don’t think we’re ever going to run out of healthcare problems to address.