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UPMC Tests Digital Health App for Surgery Patients

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   October 20, 2022

The Pip Care app, developed by a company spun out of the Pittsburgh-based health system, improves care management for patients before and after surgery.

Three UPMC hospitals will be testing out a new digital health app designed to improve care management for at-risk patients before and after surgery.

The app was designed by Pip Care, a new company spun out of the partnership between UPMC Enterprises, the innovation arm of the Pittsburgh-based health system, and Redesign Health. It uses what's called Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) processes, workflows, and protocols to help patients prepare for surgery and manage their recovery at home after the procedure.

“Surgery can be incredibly difficult on a patient’s body; in some cases, it can have the same toll as running a marathon,” Aman Mahajan, MD, chair of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and executive director of UPMC Perioperative Services, said in a press release. “If we can help patients make healthier decisions – like losing weight or quitting smoking — before they have their procedure, then we can lessen their time in the hospital and speed up their recovery."

The app will be tested at UPMC's three Centers for Perioperative Care (CPCs), located at UPMC Shadyside and UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh and UPMC Horizon in Greenville. The CDCs, which use multidisciplinary teams to help high-risk patients, such as those with chronic diseases, improve their health and wellness before surgery, account for some 10% of the health system's surgeries with inpatient stays.

The digital health platform could be a model for most pre- and post-surgery care plans, as it helps patients access resources, communicate with and share health data with their care teams, while allowing those care teams to better monitor patients after hospital discharge.

"It is a service that all patients could benefit from, not just those who are at a higher risk for complications," Mahajan said.

“While patients understand a planned surgery can reduce pain, improve mobility, and change their quality of life, questions and fears about surgical procedures can lead to delays or even no-shows," added Kathy Kaluhiokalani, founder and chief executive officer of Pip Care. "Having a personal health coach to guide you along each step of your journey is key to ensuring patients complete surgery with confidence and have a smooth recovery.”

Eric Wicklund is the Innovation and Technology Editor for HealthLeaders.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Effective care management for patients undergoing surgery includes protocols and processes before and after hospitalization.

A digital health platform can help patients and their care teams prepare for surgery and take the right steps to improve recovery after surgery and when the patient goes home.

The app developed by Pip Health will be tested at three UPMC hospitals that handle surgeries for high-risk patients, accounting for roughly 10% of the health system's surgeries with inpatient stays.


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