TAMPA, FL – UPMC and Alcatel-Lucent have announced plans to consolidate the Pittsburgh-based healthcare network's considerable telemedicine tools and solutions on one platform, creating a virtual exam room that will help healthcare providers deliver care to patients in remote locations.
The solution, expected to be ready for launch in early 2013, will leverage technology developed by UPMC's Technology Development Center as well as Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent's research and development arm. The idea is to create a secure web portal from which patients can access scheduled and emergency care through a number of mobile devices, using real-time audio and video communication. The portal would allow participants in multiple locations to take part in the exam at the same time, and would generate, retrieve and store clinical patient data.
"Advances in telecommunications technology and the widespread adoption of mobile devices have paved the way for eliminating the restrictions that bricks and mortar have placed on healthcare," said Rebecca Kaul, president of UPMC's Technology Development Center, who will co-manage the effort and help to oversee development teams in Pittsburgh and New Jersey. "By combining our clinical and technological expertise, UPMC and Alcatel-Lucent are poised to deliver on the promise of providing seamless care to patients that is only a click away."
This agreement is just the latest in a partnership dating back to 2006. Sid Ahuja, vice president of Alcatel-Lucent Ventures/Bell Labs, said the two organizations have explored several telemedicine products, including the development of a digital stethoscope to allow for remote auscultation, asset tracking, new sensors and analysis of collaborative surgery. He said UPMC will create the telemedicine service that Alcatel-Lucent will market to healthcare providers, extended care networks, insurance companies and government programs.
"The challenge involved in creating this next-generation telemedicine system is designing a true multi-point communication platform that allows everyone involved in the medical case to securely view the same data and medical records at the same time regardless of the communication device used," said Ahuja, who will co-manage the initiative. "With cloud-based technologies, services and software applications are delivered from the Internet rather than a dedicated enterprise network in a single location, enabling a new level of medical collaboration and information sharing via secure real-time audio, video and data links."
Long considered one of the leaders in developing telemedicine programs, the Pittsburgh-based UPMC network consists of 20 hospitals, more than 400 clinical locations, a 1.4-million member health plan and a growing international and commercial segment. The organization is closely affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences.
UPMC currently has 16 telemedicine service lines encompassing 19 facilities, including a transplant center in Italy and the UPMC Beacon Hospital in Ireland.
Alcatel-Lucent also recently announced it would collaborate with MMRGlobal, Inc., to integrate the MyMedicalRecords.com personal health record with its TeleHealth Manager solution.
"The integration of TeleHealth Manager with MMR's personal health record is an example of how putting all health information in one place via remote patient monitoring makes it easy for patients to update and take control of their health," said Jim White, Alcatel-Lucent's vice president of connected hospital sales. "It simplifies managing of personal health information for better overall care."
By integrating the PHR into its remote patient monitoring service, Alcatel-Lucent officials say TeleHealth Manager will be better equipped to help physicians manage the healthcare of patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension or heart disease. Doctors and their patients will be able to monitor and manage health issues together, accessing such data as blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol readings through a mobile device.