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UPMC-funded startup Xealth looks to change way patients get health care information

Wes Venteicher
| Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 5:39 p.m.
The UPMC sign atop the U.S. Steel Tower in downtown Pittsburgh.
The UPMC sign atop the U.S. Steel Tower in downtown Pittsburgh.

A UPMC-funded startup that helps doctors suggest which health apps patients should use launched Wednesday with $8.5 million in funding.

The startup, called Xealth, tested the technology at UPMC and at Seattle-based Providence Health and Services.

UPMC tested the technology in the fall in patients scheduled to undergo joint replacements. Instead of handing out printed materials on the procedure, doctors sent them digital information to access using UPMC's online patient portal, said Mark Stabingas, executive vice president of UPMC Enterprises.

The Xealth platform ties into the patient's electronic medical records, and shows the physician whether the patient has viewed the information as prescribed.

Another test involves giving women information about hysterectomies to help them decide whether they want to undergo the procedure, Stabingas said.

Those simple tests are just the beginning of UPMC's use of the platform, he said. More than 300,000 health-related apps have been developed in the last six to eight years, he said. Xealth can help doctors figure out which ones are the most useful and then let doctors monitor patients' progress using the apps.

“I think it's going to be a core part of how health care gets delivered, and it's something that we're going to work on indefinitely,” he said.

UPMC has partnered with another company, Lantern, that has developed a cognitive behavioral therapy app to help manage stress and anxiety, he said. UPMC doctors will soon be able to prescribe Lantern to patients, and will be able to view in their medical records how many of the modules in the app patients have completed and information patients have reported back about their overall mental health. The information could serve to start conversations during appointments with the patients about their progress, he said.

Wednesday's launch makes the technology available to other health systems. UPMC, through its for-profit arm development arm UPMC Enterprises, was one of five companies that invested the $8.5 million in the startup. UPMC was a minority funder; Stabingas would not disclose how much it contributed.

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676, or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

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