Connection means a lot of things. We can connect with patients and colleagues; we can connect our information systems for improved efficiency; we can connect on a deeper level with experts and ideas in other industries to better understand how to reexamine and optimize our efforts.

A company focused on the future needs to value connection on every level. At its most concrete and literal, this connection is evident in the electronic links that facilitate improved interactions. It’s the infrastructure that makes the meaningful mingling of ideas possible.

The people of UPMC are wired and connected throughout and beyond the organization. From individuals with their smartphones to electronic medical records in the hospitals to telemedicine consultation across the globe, we (and our patients) benefit from this comprehensive electronic connection that makes health care more efficient. If we could tell the physicians of yesteryear the level of connection we’re experiencing and leveraging today, they’d dismiss it as pure folly. But it’s real ― and we’re making it happen, today.

Hospitals & Health Networks, the journal of the American Hospital Association, has named UPMC one of the “Most Wired” health systems for 19 years in a row. This honor is a testament to UPMC’s commitment to innovation, with more than $1 billion invested in information technology in the last five years alone.

Aimed at improving the quality, safety, and efficiency of patient care, these investments (as well as partnerships with leading ​vendors) have assisted in developing technology solutions that will not only benefit UPMC’s providers and patients but also bolster the technological advancement of the health care industry on a global scale.

To drive this cutting-edge technology and innovation, UPMC seeks out other industry leaders to direct the trajectory of change. In other words, UPMC isn’t just observing innovative technologies within its network of hospitals or the broader health care industry: it is also continuously observing innovative companies within other industries. Pioneers in the automotive, technology, and financial fields may have insights that will help UPMC to become the worldwide leader in connected health care technologies.

Data Drives Precision Medicine

UPMC’s well-rounded and thorough approach to technology distinguishes the organization from other hospitals and health care systems in the region and around the globe. Its integrated data awareness model is unique, because every aspect of the organization—not just the IT department—analyzes data and uses advanced systems to enhance the patient experience.

“At UPMC, we have a special opportunity to combine the brilliance of our staff with our leadership’s commitment to technology, data, and deep thinking,” says Ed McCallister, CIO, UPMC. “We start with the source: clinicians, but the differentiating factor is how UPMC puts all of the pieces of the puzzle together – from leadership and physicians to data scientists and technical foundations.”

For example, the newly announced UPMC Immune Transplant and Therapy Center (ITTC), with much of its activity planned within an eight-story innovation hub consisting of labs, offices, start-up companies, and industry partners, is part of a concerted effort to harness the power of the human immune system to treat and cure a wide range of diseases. Because the organization is so connected, ITTC researchers will be able to quickly test ambitious, high-reward projects and translate them from bench to bedside, a process that can be complex and arduous under traditional mechanisms.

Leading the Digital Patient Experience

UPMC is pioneering the digital experience for patients with its expanded telemedicine practices, giving patients throughout the region and abroad access to more than 30 medical specialties. Providers collaborate with patients for emergent care, real-time consultations, pre- and post-operative surgical care, and home monitoring via video conferencing services.

For real-time, non-emergent consultations, UPMC AnywhereCare and eDermatology  offer patients online access to high-quality care, a personal diagnosis, and a treatment plan. UPMC’s partnership with Vivify Health provides patients with remote monitoring of chronic illnesses, like congestive heart failure.

UPMC has also long been a leader in electronic medical records and is one of the founding members of ClinicalConnect Health Information Exchange, western Pennsylvania’s health information network, formed to help deliver better patient care throughout the region. Additionally, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC consistently receives the highest level of children’s hospital certification for EMRs: the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Stage 7 Award. Fewer than 5 percent of hospitals in the United States have achieved Stage 7 certification.

Forward Thinking: Building Hospitals of the Future

“UPMC is in a space to create productive disruption within the health care industry,” says Mr. McCallister. “Our analytics allow UPMC to continue to develop precision medicine and lay a strong foundation to create hospitals of the future.”

The goal is to never stop moving patients closer to the digital experience while continuing to provide care that is precise and personalized to every individual. Soon, UPMC expects to evolve EMRs to a diagnostic arena, where providers can easily analyze data within a patients’ medical history to diagnose and treat more efficiently.

Similarly, the next step for UPMC’s telemedicine practice is to integrate these digital strategies of care within its standard brick-and-mortar techniques. Patients will soon experience a world where they can quickly determine the need to be seen by a provider and if it makes sense to schedule a virtual visit or in-office appointment.

UPMC anticipates technology will drive both the outpatient and inpatient experiences well into the future. The health system is now magnifying areas of artificial intelligence, biometrics, and cybersecurity to fully optimize all of its practice areas. Equally important is designing new hospitals to allow greater accessibility to modern technology, which also encompasses the development of a standardized model that’s easy to deploy and replicate across all newly constructed hospitals and care centers. With more than 30 hospitals currently in-network, UPMC includes the largest number of hospitals and beds within the Most Wired list of hospitals and health networks.

“Our commitment starts from the top,” says Mr. McCallister. “We’re never satisfied with what we’ve accomplished, so we’re always looking toward the future. The foundation we’ve laid thus far has positioned us well to execute our great vision. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the technology that drives UPMC.”