A new Disruptive Health Technology Institute has been set up at the Carnegie Mellon University in partnership with a leading US medical insurance company, with the aim of making healthcare more affordable and effective.

E-Health: US Insurer Funds Research into Disruptive Technology

Now that the healthcare industry continues to attract major investment in the United States, health insurers – or one at least – also appear keen to contribute to this wave of technological innovation. Highmark, a Pennsylvania-based medical insurer and wellness company, has just invested $11 million in setting up the Disruptive Health Technology Institute (DHTI) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). The purpose of this multi-year initiative is to find ways to simplify health care and make it more affordable and accessible in the state of Pennsylvania and throughout the country.

Medical insurer now investing in research

It is worth pointing out that so-called ‘disruptive’ technologies being brought into the health sector are mainly all about reducing the high cost of medical staff and/or transferring the location of healthcare usually provided in traditional hospitals to local clinics, doctors’ consultation rooms or even patients’ homes. Those working at the DHTI will be able to use the insurance claims data supplied by Highmark in order to target areas where current clinical practice is least effective or most expensive. Meanwhile the university will be able to “draw on its IT and data analysis skills, among other areas of expertise, to examine how medical and healthcare services can be delivered in a more efficient and less expensive way,” explained sources at CMU/DHTI.

Seven key areas of research

The research lab will concentrate on seven key areas – data mining, accessibility of medical diagnostics, diagnostic ultrasound, improved endoscopy and better infection prevention, plus chronic disease management and patient behavioural change. The Institute launched seven projects on 1 August, each of which is already close to producing tangible results. In fact more than fifty proposals for research addressing the targeted areas have been submitted by CMU faculty members. They will be competitively reviewed based on the anticipated impact on 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, explained the Institute.

By Ruolin Yang