PITTSBURGH (June 24, 2013) — Carnegie Mellon University, Highmark and Allegheny Health Network today announced the creation of the Disruptive Health Technology Institute (DHTI), a multi-year initiative with an initial investment of $11 million aimed at increasing the affordability, simplicity and accessibility of health care.
The DHTI will be financially supported by Highmark and Allegheny Health Network, creating an environment where health care innovations can be clinically tested and rapidly delivered to patients.
"This institute is built around the mission of researching and deploying new technologies to help reduce health care costs and improve outcomes for patients," said Mark S. Kamlet, CMU provost and executive vice president. "This is a distinct partnership in that health insurance companies don't usually invest in research. We look forward to having our CMU researchers develop and share innovative health care delivery technologies that will shape the future."
Highmark, a national diversified health and wellness company, is looking at health care innovation as one of the many ways to improve care for the health plan members of its insurance subsidiaries, and all patients in its newly created integrated delivery network. Key areas of health care like health and wellness and prevention and medication compliance, if addressed appropriately, can impact patient quality of life and reduce health care costs estimated to top $4.8 trillion nationally by 2021.
"One of our goals when Highmark created Allegheny Health Network was to transform health care in western Pennsylvania, offering different options and choices for people of the region," said Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., Highmark's president and CEO. "Partnering with a worldwide leader like CMU will open the door to the ideas and innovations that we need to improve health care delivery for the betterment of our patients and the community."
DHTI will focus on seven key areas, including accessibility of medical diagnostics, behavior change, chronic disease management, data mining, improved endoscopy, improved diagnostic ultrasound and infection prevention. Proposals from CMU faculty to address these issues will be competitively reviewed based on the anticipated impact to a large population and the ability to provide substantial health care savings, as well as likely success in improving patient safety and quality of life.
To jumpstart DHTI, Highmark created the Highmark Distinguished Professor in the College of Engineering's Institute for Complex Engineered Systems at CMU. Alan Russell, a dynamic pioneer in the science of regenerating damaged or diseased human tissue, was appointed to the new post where he will oversee daily DHTI operations and work collaboratively with CMU faculty to address research goals.
"Disruptive innovation has brought affordability and quality products to a variety of industry sectors, but health care has not yet experienced that pioneering drive. Our new DHTI initiative is designed to create a framework for categorizing and developing novel disruptive technologies to improve health care by increasing availability and reducing cost," said Russell.
Russell reports that by using Highmark's claims data the group at CMU will be able to learn where current clinical practice is most inaccurate and expensive.
"The CMU innovation ecosystem can be deployed with laser-like focus to develop the technologies that will help patients' health and finances," said Russell. "The U.S. health care tab reached $2.8 trillion last year, but we believe our new institute will help reduce those costs and improve quality for all consumers."