The Center for Connected Medicine: where providers and health IT come together

It's no secret that healthcare is changing, and quickly. And perhaps nowhere is the need to keep up with change more pressing than in the world of health IT.

New technologies are being introduced seemingly on a daily basis, and health IT professionals, not to mention the providers they support, are hard pressed to keep up with understanding how any new IT can help them provide better, more efficient healthcare.

That's where the Center for Connected Medicine (CCM) comes in.  Based at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), CCM is a collaborative healthcare executive briefing center whose goal is to show healthcare stakeholders what IT can do for them.

According to Cheryl Paxton-Hughes, CCM's executive director, the Center got its start in 2009 when a number of UPMC's strategic partners decided there was a need for a "neutral" site.  That is, the partners – which include, among others, IBM, GE, Verizon, and Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, in addition to UPMC – realized the benefit of having a place where they could bring healthcare stakeholders from around the world and show them the full range of available and emerging health IT and how those technologies could serve their own organizations.

The Center, she said, "is a living laboratory of how health IT is working."

The Center is staffed with a medical director and two clinicians, and visitors – over 23,000 from 63 countries in the last five years – also have access to an array of UPMC subject matter experts.

As Rob Hemmerich, of Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, explains it, "We find again and again that IT professionals have a really hard time explaining the connection between what they do and why it's important to patient care. Interacting at (CCM) enables us to speak with experts who understand what we do and understand its importance to healthcare."

Echoing Hemmerich, Ramya Singh, director of marketing services for GE Healthcare Systems, said that many of the trends currently sweeping across healthcare systems around the globe involve finding ways to connect providers with patients. This search, she said, leads to questions such as "How do you connect information with caregivers?  How do you drive behavioral changes? How do you move from volume-based to value-based care? And how are you coordinating care?"

Calling CCM a "quasi think tank," she said the Center "is very well positioned to drive this discussion and help to figure out what's possible."  

To Alex Stein, director of business development for global public sector at IBM, since its launch CCM "has grown from a U.S.-centric view to a global view, which parallels IBM's view."

Stein added that while IBM has many different briefing centers, what CCM does is bring together thought leaders in the healthcare realm. It also provides what he called a "non-denominational view." 

That is, "it doesn't talk about a specific company's strengths when talking about a trend," which, Stein added, "changes things from a pitch to a conversation. That's what we wanted to have, because what we're trying to do is move beyond our traditional interface to show that there's a more complex view of healthcare delivery."

There's little doubt most healthcare stakeholders are aware of the complexity of healthcare. It's CCM's mission to make that complexity understandable.

This blog was orginally posted on Future Care.