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Healthcare Supply Chain to Get the Watson Treatment

By HealthLeaders Media News  
   July 08, 2016

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and IBM have announced the formation of an independent company to tackle one of healthcare's fastest-growing expenses.

It has been enlisted to work on Vice President Joe Biden's cancer moonshot, has been tapped by the American Diabetes Association to address the prevention and care of diabetes, and it has beaten humans at Jeopardy.

Now the cognitive computing capabilities of IBM's Watson will be applied to the challenges of the healthcare supply chain.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and IBM announced on Thursday the formation of an independent company, Pensiamo, to tackle one of healthcare's fastest-growing expenses, supply chain costs.

Under pressure to control costs, a vital element of the move to value-based care, providers need to understand costs down to individual patients the companies said.

IBM's Watson technology may help by analyzing vast quantities of data and generating insight. The name, Pensiamo, means "we think" in Italian.

IBM took a minority ownership interest in the venture, while UPMC took the lead in forming the new company, according to a joint statement:

"At a time when patients are demanding higher quality and value, traditional approaches to providing health care supply chain services are no longer sufficient," said James Szilagy, who will move from his role as UPMC chief supply chain officer to become Pensiamo chief executive officer.

"The new company will combine the best of UPMC's health care supply chain experience with IBM's expertise in non-medical procurement services, as well as IBM Watson capabilities infused with UPMC's domain expertise."

"The aim is to offer providers a supply chain management approach tailored to each institution's specialties, patient population and other unique needs, and which will learn and respond over time to the changing needs of the business."

UPMC will be Pensiamo's first customer.

The analyst firm Gartner regularly ranks UPMC in its annual list of the top 25 healthcare supply chain organizations. Gartner makes this determination based on improved patient outcomes and lowered costs as a result of supply chain efficiencies.

This is not UPMC's first supply chain venture. Previous developments out of UPMC initiatives include Prodigo Solutions, Health Care Pharmacy Center, and BigTronics.

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