North Shore-based Health Monitoring Systems takes communities' pulse
When Superstorm Sandy slammed into New Jersey at the end of October, a young Pittsburgh company helped state health officials cope with the catastrophe and prepare for the next one.
With Health Monitoring Systems Inc.'s data collection and analytics, the New Jersey Department of Health learned many hospital emergency rooms were admitting power-starved patients suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. So, state officials created a public-awareness campaign on the safe use of diesel generators when the power goes out.
“It gave us a way to know if something was going on that might need public health intervention and gave us ideas for planning for future storms,” said Teresa Hamby, data analyst at the New Jersey Health Department, which adopted Health Monitoring's system in 2011.
Last week, the local company added the Pennsylvania Department of Health to its growing list of a dozen state-agency customers and about 550 hospitals nationwide using its health surveillance and monitoring service. The home-state deal adds to the company's claim as the nation's largest provider of community-health surveillance.
“We expect to have over 700 hospitals by 2014,” said Kevin Hutchison, CEO of Health Monitoring, based on the North Shore.
Founded in 2006, the company collects emergency-room admissions data on an anonymous basis, and its software analyzes it for patterns that suggest the start of an epidemic or other public health issue. It also is staffed with health experts who interpret the data collected.
For example, after California dropped dental visits from Medicaid recipients' coverage in 2009, the state found from Health Monitoring's analysis that residents turned to hospital emergency rooms for dental problems.
“What we give (health officials) is a dashboard where they can see what is happening across their entire state,” Hutchison said. “It's giving them the same thing as AccuWeather, but for public health conditions.”
Early-stage investors in Health Monitoring said the few competing systems on the market take weeks, if not months, to analyze emergency admissions data, which limits its value in responding to spread of infectious disease.
“But theirs is real-time data reporting for health professionals to look at what's happening today. That's why their product resonates so well in the market place,” said Richard Lunak, CEO of Innovation Works. The South Oakland organization invested $300,000 in Health Monitoring in 2008.
“Their technology is robust, and Kevin is a good CEO. He can get his message across to customers and investors,” said John Manzetti, CEO of Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, South Side, which invested $200,000 the same year.
Health Monitoring was spun out of a research project at the University of Pittsburgh in 2002, when toxic anthrax letters were terrorizing parts of the United States. During that year's Winter Olympics, the project team enlisted Salt Lake City hospitals to collect emergency-room admissions data to look for abnormal patterns, especially signs of bioterrorism.
“It was obvious by 2006 that this wasn't something that was just a research project anymore, but a service that the public needed,” Hutchison said. “Now, it's other things, like the flu, or the impact of public policies on dental visits or the incidence of heat stroke.”
In the future, Health Monitoring hopes to expand its services to health insurers, Hutchison said.
Thomas Olson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached a 412-320-7854 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- SEC alleges BNY Mellon bribed foreign investors by handing internships to their relatives
- Obamacare enrollment up in Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania shale gas producers received hundreds of environmental citations in 4 years, PennEnvironment says
- U.S. company outlooks worry investors, sending stocks lower
- India nuke deals still thorny for U.S. despite ‘breakthrough’
- U.S. Steel has 1st profitable year since 2008
- MSA Safety products in demand to protect workers in dangerous jobs
- Yahoo to spin off Alibaba shares
- Interest rates likely to stay low until fall
- U.S. Steel warns it may lay off almost 2,000 workers in Alabama, Texas
- Energy-saving tactics pay off in Green Workplace Challenge