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Patients who virtually meet with a UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute doctor have a new way to revisit what they’re told during their telehealth visits.

UPMC has partnered with Pittsburgh-based startup Abridge, which uses artificial intelligence to generate a “smart” after-visit summary for patients. They hope to give patients a clear, complete understanding of their health, from diagnosis to the next steps. Patients also can take a more active role in their own care.

With patients now getting care through smartphones, tablets, and telephones, they face new challenges in remembering doctors’ orders. That’s especially the case if other technology or activity in their homes is distracting them.

“Living through this crisis, we understood we needed a new way to communicate with our patients,” says Suresh Mulukutla, MD, a cardiologist at UPMC.

Dr. Mulukutla also analyzes clinical data across the system to identify opportunities to improve care. “Abridge allows us a unique mechanism to stay connected with patients even beyond the actual visit,” he says.

UPMC’s partnership with Abridge addresses this potential communication gap.

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How Does Abridge Work?

Abridge records each doctor’s visit. It uses groundbreaking, natural-language processing to highlight key medical terms and next steps. This allows users to review important details.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on adopting innovative ways to provide patient-centered care, even in times of crisis,” says Tami Minnier, UPMC’s chief quality officer. “Abridge helps us enhance the patient experience while also increasing health literacy and patient outcomes.”

Doctors using Abridge for telephone visits at UPMC can call their patients through an Abridge-enabled phone number. If the patient and physician both consent, Abridge records the calls. It transcribes medically relevant sections for easy review. Abridge also provides helpful links to more information.

After the call is over, Abridge users receive a text message that tells them how to access their summary with the Abridge app.

Patients also can use the Abridge app on their smartphones or tablets to record in-person or video appointments.

UPMC and Abridge plan to move the summaries from phone visits into the electronic health record. This will help provide more coordinated care.

Where Did Abridge Come From?

Abridge emerged from the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance. The alliance is a collaboration between UPMC, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Pittsburgh. It seeks to apply machine learning to health care challenges.

Shiv Rao, MD, a former UPMC cardiologist, co-founded Abridge with Sandeep Konam and Florian Metze of Carnegie Mellon. The company aims to bring context and understanding to every medical conversation.

Rao says the company was partially inspired by his own family experience with a rare disease, as well as his experiences as a doctor.

“When you’re stressed and anxious — as many of us are during the coronavirus pandemic — it’s easy to forget the many small details that are crucial to maintaining our health and well-being,” Dr. Rao says. “We hope that Abridge will help people stay on top of their health, from home to hospital.”

Patients can download Abridge for free on the App Store or Google Play Store.

About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.