UPMC Physician Resources

Physicians in India Access UPMC Medical Expertise through Telemedicine

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 21, 2014 – With the latest expansion of its global telemedicine efforts, UPMC is now offering physicians in India access to its world-renowned medical expertise to improve care for patients. Through advanced, web-based technology, UPMC physicians specializing in oncology, pulmonology, colorectal surgery and other specialties are providing second opinions to physicians in the world’s second-most populous nation.

Through a new agreement with TeleChikitsa Ventures, a private company based in Bangalore that assists Indian physicians seeking second opinions from other qualified physicians, UPMC’s doctors are providing direct, physician-to-physician consultations. Using secure telemedicine applications, developed in part at UPMC’s Technology Development Center, the physicians can share patient records and images and provide a consult to their Indian counterparts within 48 hours.

“UPMC’s leadership in medicine and technology enables us to improve access to world-class care for patients throughout India,” said Puneet Gurnani, president and chief executive of TeleChikitsa. “With just six doctors for every 10,000 people in India, innovative partnerships like this—which take advantage of rapidly spreading mobile networks—will be critical to ensuring a strong and healthy population in the years to come.”

“Through advances in telemedicine, UPMC physicians—without leaving their offices—can share their life-saving expertise with people almost anywhere in the world, regardless of time or distance,” added Andrew Watson, M.D., chief medical information officer for UPMC’s International and Commercial Services Division. “The result is a better, more efficient and more convenient health care system that better serves patients, no matter where they live.”

This is UPMC’s second agreement in India, where it already has assisted Citizens Hospital in Hyderabad with the creation of a clinical pathology laboratory. UPMC is helping Citizens to expand its advanced pathology capabilities, with the facility expected to become a reference lab serving patients throughout the Middle East.

Starting in western Pennsylvania more than a decade ago, UPMC’s telemedicine program today encompasses more than 40 specialties and provides access to advanced care to hundreds of patients each year. UPMC telemedicine services are available in China, Kazakhstan, Singapore, Colombia, Mexico, Ireland and Italy, as well as western Pennsylvania, and are a vital part of UPMC Global Care, a program that helps international patients access UPMC’s world-class care.

Pitt’s Neuromuscular Research Lab Begins Work with a Third Branch of U.S. Special Forces: Air Force

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 19, 2014 – Marking the fifth ongoing research site at a Department of Defense installation, the University of Pittsburgh recently launched a Warrior Human Performance Research Center to conduct performance-optimization and injury-prevention research at Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) at Hurlburt Field, Fla., as part of a three-year, $3 million study.

The new site brings this 8-year-old program to a third branch of the United States military, the Air Force, with ongoing sites at three Naval Special Warfare SEALs bases (Little Creek, Va.; Stennis Space Center, Miss.; and Coronado, Calif.) and one Army Special Operations post (Fort Bragg, N.C.).

“And the funding is in place to begin working soon with the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command  in Camp Lejeune, N.C.,” said Scott Lephart, Ph.D., director of the Neuromuscular Research Lab overseeing this program and distinguished professor, and chair of the Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition at the Pitt School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS). “This final piece is very important because it completes our support to all four Special Operations Forces Components and enables us to fully support the needs of the U.S. Special Operations Command’s priority operation called the ‘Preservation of the Force and Families Task Force’.”

The Warrior Human Performance Research Centers help to design physical-training programs to improve individual performance and reduce injury, said Timothy Sell, Ph.D., the principal investigator on the AFSOC research with the Department of Defense. They have shown significant relevance and  success in: limiting training, combat and recreation injuries; enhancing force readiness by maximizing the effects of training to reduce fatigue and optimize performance; and prolonging the operation life as well as enhancing the quality of life after service. For instance, the inaugural center, at Fort Campbell, Ky., with the 101st Airborne, implemented a specific training program that reduced overuse injuries by 25.4 percent, lower-extremity injuries by 17.5 percent, and acute injuries by 15.9 percent.

“The lab at Hurlburt is functionally identical to our other labs,” said Dr. Sell, an associate professor in the SHRS Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition “The research model is the same, too. What’s different is the Operator, and our research model has adaptability to be specific to each military group and each group of Operators.”

There are four different Operators at AFSOC versus, say, a Navy SEAL, although the Navy SEAL has duties in different areas. The AFSOC Operators are: pararescue, combat controllers, combat weathermen and Tactical Air Control Party. These are battlefield airmen from helicopters and planes, yet they also carry out various ground duties such as counterterrorism deployment and remote airfield/air-traffic control—a function they performed in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake there. Pilots are not part of this Human Performance Warrior study, which focuses on the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron.

“But each research project is unique,” Sell added, referring to the wide ranges of what they call task- and demand-analysis studies in these various Special Forces. “We go out in the field, observe the different Operators, monitor them and observe the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal demands, and that tells us about each group. At Pitt, you can observe the wrestler, the volleyball player, the basketball player, the runner, and they have different musculoskeletal demands. For instance, the cross-country runner wouldn’t have shoulder injuries. The wrestler could get a whole litany of injuries.” This research, Sell continued, “hones in on the specific needs” of each military segment of Special Forces and informs officials how to better train and prevent injuries among those groups.

The program all began in 2005 under the concept of bringing Sports Medicine research and expertise to the military, and the Special Operations components have embraced these projects. One assistant professor and two research associates at each base lead research into regular demands on these soldiers. The three Pitt employees assigned to the Hurlburt Field site are: assistant professor Meleesa Wohleber, M.S., a Pittsburgh native and former athletic trainer at a U.S. Coast Guard Training Center; research associate Deirdre McFate, M.S., a Delmont, Pa., native who completed her master’s degree in the Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition in 2011; and research associate Andrew Simonson, M.S., who completed both his bachelor’s in 2012 and master’s in 2013 at Pitt and previously worked for the UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Each project in the Warrior Human Performance program is in a different phase of the research model, primarily because each phase lasts roughly one year. The program hit the ground on a military base barely 6 ½ years ago, with the 101st Army Airborne at Fort Campbell. Its epidemiological studies consistently demonstrate that the majority of musculoskeletal injuries occur during physical training, and that a sizeable percentage of those injuries are preventable through targeted, musculoskeletal-specific training programs.

“We’ll be approaching that phase of research with Navy SEALs in the near feature,” Sell added.

The Department of Defense designated $7.2 million in total grants to Pitt and SHRS for projects for fiscal year 2013 and similar funding for 2014. In addition to the Air Force project and others still in the works, this summer the U.S. Special Operations Command formally invited Pitt and the Neuromuscular Research Lab to become its applied scientific partner in support of Preservation of the Force and Families Task Force. This partnership is in the final stages of execution.

Onsite OHS Taps UPMC Expertise through Telemedicine to Care for Patients in Afghanistan

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 19, 2014 Onsite Occupational Health and Safety Inc. (Onsite OHS) announced today that it has signed an agreement with UPMC, one of the nation’s leading health care systems, to provide second opinions and medical consultations through a secure Internet link for the benefit of Onsite OHS customers. The telemedicine services initially will be offered in Afghanistan.

UPMC physicians will offer their services in dermatology, infectious disease, neurology and orthopaedics, although other service lines may be added later. Onsite OHS, which serves defense, energy, manufacturing and other customers worldwide, expects to expand UPMC’s consultations to other countries in southwest Asia and potentially to several states in the U.S.

“As one of the nation’s top 10 medical centers and a global leader in the use of telemedicine, UPMC will help us to bring world-class care to patients, regardless of time or distance,” said Kyle G. Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Onsite OHS. “Under the first agreement of its kind for Onsite OHS, these ‘virtual’ consultations will be a valuable addition to the care that we offer to our patients all over the world.”

UPMC physicians will provide their consultations starting in March to Onsite OHS physicians, and those doctors will remain responsible for patient care. Using an innovative, web-based telemedicine system developed at UPMC’s Technology Development Center, UPMC’s physicians can provide Onsite OHS with a consult within hours of notification and receipt of necessary patient medical information.

“With its focus on excellence in patient care and unparalleled responsiveness to patients and clients, Onsite OHS shares some of the same core values that drive the world-class physicians of UPMC,” said Andrew Watson, M.D., chief medical information officer for UPMC’s International and Commercial Services Division. “This collaboration will build on our extensive telemedicine efforts, part of UPMC Global Care, which provides patients worldwide with a variety of convenient ways to access our highly specialized care.”

UPMC’s rapidly expanding telemedicine program for adults and children encompasses nearly 40 service lines and serves patients in India, Singapore, Kazakhstan, China, Ireland, Italy, Colombia and Mexico. The program enables better chronic disease management, improved access to specialists for rural and remote areas, and enhanced education for health care providers.

New Webcam System at UPMC Connects Families with Newborns in Intensive Care Units at Children’s and Magee

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 18, 2014 – New parents and family members can check in on their infants hospitalized in UPMC’s neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) any time of day and from anywhere in the world thanks to a new camera system installed in the NICUs at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.

Children’s Hospital and Magee-Womens Hospital are two of only three hospitals in the state to implement this password-protected webcam system called NICVIEW, which, through an internet connection, gives families a virtual connection to their newborns.

The early hours and days after having a newborn that requires intensive care are critical for the parents, the baby and the family. A newborn in the NICU causes separation and anxiety for everyone involved and can occur for many reasons – a mother may not see her newborn for a few days if she remains in the hospital after delivery, a sibling might not meet his new brother or sister, or a grandparent may be long distance. The NICVIEW system allows family and friends, who are given a unique username and password, to log in and visit the baby from anywhere in the world.

“When a baby is hospitalized in the NICU, this can be a very stressful and frightening time for families and it is even more difficult when they can’t be at the hospital with their baby,” said Beverly Brozanski, M.D., clinical director, Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “Being able to view their newborn on the camera is very reassuring and helps parents stay connected with the baby as well as the medical team.”

Thirty cameras are installed in the NICU of each hospital. The cameras are mounted above the baby’s incubator, which provides families access to a live video stream that they can watch from a computer or mobile device at six appointed times throughout the day. The cameras are turned off during change of shift and during routine care hours.

“In a NICU setting, parents are looking for any way to bond with their newborn,” said Roberta Bell, Magee-Women’s Hospital NICU clinician. “We’re also encouraging breast-feeding mothers to log on and watch their baby in real-time while pumping as a way to increase production.  We’ve received very positive feedback from women who have had this option.”

The NICVIEW system is designed to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which requires confidential handling of patient information.

Children’s received funding for the NICVIEW system from the Snee-Reinhardt Foundation. Magee was initially funded through a grant from the hospital’s Volunteer Service Board. The fundraising efforts of the Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation through the funds raised at the 2013 Savor Pittsburgh event will support the purchase of an additional 30 cameras this spring.

Laboratory Detective Work Points to Potential Therapy for Rare, Drug-Resistant Cancer

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 13, 2014 University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) scientists have shown that old drugs might be able to do new tricks.

By screening a library of FDA-approved anticancer drugs that previously wouldn’t have been considered as a treatment for a rare type of cancer, UPCI scientists were surprised when they found several potential possibilities to try if the cancer becomes resistant to standard drug treatment.

The discovery, which will be published in the February 15th issue of Cancer Research, demonstrates that high-throughput screening of already FDA-approved drugs can identify new therapies that could be rapidly moved to the clinic.

“This is known as ‘drug repurposing,’ and it is an increasingly promising way to speed up the development of treatments for cancers that do not respond well to standard therapies,” said senior author Anette Duensing, M.D., assistant professor of pathology at UPCI. “Drug repurposing builds upon previous research and development efforts, and detailed information about the drug formulation and safety is usually available, meaning that it can be ready for clinical trials much faster than a brand-new drug.”

Dr. Duensing and her team ran the screening on 89 drugs previously approved by the FDA in an attempt to find more treatment options for patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), which are uncommon tumors that begin in the walls of the gastrointestinal tract. According to the American Cancer Society, about 5,000 cases of GISTs occur each year in the United States with an estimated five-year survival rate of 45 percent in patients with advanced disease.

GISTs are caused by a single gene mutation and can be successfully treated with the targeted therapy drug imatinib, known by the trade name Gleevec. However, about half of the patients treated with Gleevec become resistant to the drug within the first two years of treatment.

After studying how samples of GIST responded to various concentrations of the 89 drugs in the laboratory, Dr. Duensing and her colleagues identified 37 compounds that showed some anticancer activity in at least one of the concentrations tested. Importantly, they noted that the most promising candidates all belonged to only two major drug classes: inhibitors of gene transcription and so-called topoisomerase II inhibitors. Based on these findings, the research team selected the two most promising compounds for further testing – gene transcription inhibitor mithramycin A, which is in clinical trials to treat Ewing sarcoma, and topoisomerase II inhibitor mitoxantrone, which is used in metastatic breast cancer and leukemia.

Both drugs were highly effective in fighting GIST in laboratory tests. Moreover, the mechanism of action of each drug was linked to the specific underlying biology of these tumors.

“These are very encouraging results,” said Dr. Duensing. “The next step will be moving our findings to clinical exploration to see if the results we found in the lab hold up in patients.”

Additional co-authors of this study include Sergei Boichuk, M.D., Ph.D., Derek J. Lee, B.S., Keith R. Mehalek, M.S., Kathleen R. Makielski, M.S., Danushka S. Seneviratne, B.S., Rolando Cuevas, M.S., Joshua A. Parry, B.S., Matthew F. Brown, Ph.D., James P. Zewe, B.S., and Shih-Fan Kuan, M.D., Ph.D., all of Pitt; Agnieszka Wozniak, Ph.D., Patrick Schöffski, M.D., M.P.H., and Maria Debiec-Rychter, M.D., Ph.D., all of the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium; Nina Korzeniewski, Ph.D., of the University of Heidelberg in Germany; and Takahiro Taguchi, M.D., of Kochi Medical School in Japan.

This research was supported by American Cancer Society grant no. RSG-08-092-01-CCG, The Life Raft Group, GIST Cancer Research Fund and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Developer of Innovative Surgical Technique Leads New Center for Colorectal Issues at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 12, 2014Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has recruited an internationally renowned surgeon, Luis De la Torre, M.D., to establish the new Colorectal Center for Children that will serve as a resource for children from around the world with complex colorectal issues.

Children’s Colorectal Center for Children will provide multidisciplinary medical and surgical care for children who are born with or acquire issues of the bowel or rectum. Dr. De la Torre, who pioneered a unique, less invasive surgical approach to the treatment of Hirschsprung’s disease, specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of children with complex colorectal conditions, including anorectal malformations; cloaca; fecal incontinence; idiopathic constipation; bowel management; colostomy care; appendicostomy; colon polyps; anal fistula; anal abscesses; and colorectal problems in children with myelomeningocele.

“Dr. De la Torre is recognized as a leader in his field and his recruitment to Children’s enables us to establish a multidisciplinary center that focuses not only on the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions, but on the quality of life of these patients,” said George K. Gittes, M.D., surgeon-in-chief at Children’s and the Benjamin R. Fisher Chair of Pediatric Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “Dr. De la Torre is an innovative surgeon, but his focus is on providing comprehensive and ongoing care that allows children with these complex colorectal issues to return to lives that are as normal as possible.”

The Colorectal Center for Children will provide comprehensive diagnosis, appropriate treatment and intestinal rehabilitation for children with these complex disorders. The Center will include specialists within gastroenterology, pediatric surgery, and urology with additional training in colorectal diseases, and pediatric nurses specializing in the treatment of wounds, colostomies and bowel management. Pediatric radiologists and pathologists specializing in diseases of the colon also are a part of the center.

“One of the goals of the Colorectal Center is to help recover children’s quality of life and integration into society, including the possible challenges of puberty, sexual function and childbearing as they relate to colorectal issues,” said Dr. De la Torre, a surgeon in the Division of Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery.

Dr. De la Torre, also associate professor of surgery at the Pitt School of Medicine, comes to Children’s from Hospital Ángeles Puebla in Mexico, where he was founding director of the Colorectal Center for Children and chief of Pediatric Surgery.

Dr. De la Torre completed his residency training in Pediatrics and Pediatric Surgery at the Instituto Nacional de Pediatría at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, a hospital internationally known for contributions in the field of pediatric colorectal surgery. He also completed a fellowship in pediatric colorectal surgery at Schneider Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where he trained under internationally known Alberto Pena, M.D.

Dr. De La Torre is author of more than 35 peer reviewed articles and numerous book chapters, with many focusing on Hirschsprung’s disease, rehabilitation of children with congenital, acquired and complicated colorectal diseases. He also belongs to the editorial committees of four pediatric surgery journals.

For more information about Dr. De la Torre and the Colorectal Center for Children, please visit www.chp.edu/CHP/colorectal+center+for+children.

UPMC Performs 100 Lung Transplants for Eighth Consecutive Year

In 2013, the UPMC Lung Transplantation Program performed 100 lung transplants, an achievement that has set apart the program for eight consecutive years. This number exceeds many other transplant centers, making UPMC one of the most experienced lung transplantation programs in the country, with outcomes that continue to meet national standards.

The UPMC Lung Transplantation Program works within the UPMC Comprehensive Lung Center to provide exceptional care for patients with life-threatening lung diseases.

For more information, download the UPMC Lung Transplantation Program Referral Guide here.

Center for Black Equity and Pitt Public Health Announce HIV Research Project

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 10, 2014 – The Center for Black Equity and the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health are partnering on a new research project to study reasons for increased risk of HIV infection among African-American men who have sex with men (MSM).

The project, funded by a $3.2 million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will seek to enroll nearly 6,000 African-American MSM who attend Black Gay Pride events in large cities nationwide.

“It has become clear in recent years that the major reason that African-American MSM have such high rates of HIV infection is not that these men have high rates of risk-taking behaviors for infection,” said Ron Stall, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the Center for LGBT Health Research at Pitt Public Health. “Rather, the reason for elevated infection has far more to do with lack of access to HIV testing and medical care.”

“By learning more about the barriers to HIV testing and access to care among people positive for HIV, we can do a better job of preventing new HIV infections among African-American MSM and keep those infected healthy for many years to come,” said Earl Fowlkes, president and chief executive officer of the Center for Black Equity.

Dr. Stall and his team plan to recruit men for their study at Black Gay Pride events in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Black Gay Pride events have grown to become a social movement in the United States attended by an estimated 300,000 people annually.

The men will be asked questions as part of an anonymous survey that will help researchers understand the barriers and facilitators to HIV testing and care.

In addition to data about HIV risk in this population, the study will generate information about other social determinants that are likely to be important to the overall health of African-American MSM, including depression, substance use, violence victimization and other health problems. Finally, the study will measure specific resiliencies – or the ability to avoid negative health outcomes – that may be important resources for health, even among men who must cope with adverse social environments.

“It is exciting to be part of a study that will create the largest sample of HIV-related data from African-American MSM ever taken, and one that will yield important data about the health and well-being of our community. The Center for Black Equity will work with our partners at the University of Pittsburgh to ensure that these data are shared with the community and can be used to improve the health of these men,” said Mr. Fowlkes.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to work with the Center for Black Equity to put an important study like this into the field,” said Dr. Stall. “HIV/AIDS has been a crisis in the African-American MSM community for more than 30 years, and it is past time that we took this epidemic more seriously. We hope that this study, in collaboration with other research and care efforts, will provide a real contribution to bringing this dangerous epidemic to an end.”

This project is funded by NIH grant no. R01 NR013865.

Analysis of Telephone Calls to IBD Clinic Predicts Emergency Visits and Hospitalizations, Pitt Finds

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 7, 2014 – A comprehensive analysis of patient telephone records at an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) clinic revealed that 15 percent of patients account for half of all calls to the clinic. Forty-two percent of frequent-caller patients also were seen in the emergency department or hospitalized within the following year.

The results, which can help doctors identify patients with the most severe disease and those at risk of potentially avoidable high-cost medical interventions, were reported in a study published online this week in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) are chronic lifelong conditions which affect the gastrointestinal tract of up to 2 million Americans, the majority of whom are diagnosed as young adults. Telephone communication in IBD care is common, and involves reporting clinical status, treatment, reassurance, and completion of health care forms and insurance authorization. Yet, until now, there has been limited information on telephone activity volume or the reasons for calls in the care of chronic illness, including IBD.

“Telephone surveillance and the use of big data allowed us to find red flags identifying patients at risk of high-cost medical interventions, such as emergency department use and/or hospitalization. These findings can help to identify disease severity and teach us how to take better care of our patients,” noted senior author David Binion, M.D., visiting professor of medicine, clinical and translational science and co-director of the IBD Center at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Researchers tracked more than 50,000 phone calls over a period of two years, from over 3,000 patients. The researchers assessed associations between clinical factors and logged telephone encounters, and between patterns of telephone calls and future visits to the emergency room or hospitalization.

Calls were categorized into five groups:

  • Problem/follow-up (incoming calls from patients), representing 52 percent of all calls
  • Resolution/plan (outgoing calls to patients), representing 25 percent of all calls
  • Refill requests/pharmacy contacts, representing 12 percent of all calls
  • Insurance authorization, representing 10 percent of all calls
  • Completion of forms or record requests, representing 1 percent of all calls

Researchers also measured telephone encounters logged into electronic medical records in consented subjects from a prospective IBD research registry. Patients calling more than 10 times per year were considered high telephone encounters.

Results showed that:

  • Telephone calls are predictors of how likely patients are to enter the emergency room: clusters of phone calls over time were highly predictive of who ended up in the hospital over the course of the next year.
  • Frequent telephone calls correlated with:
    • Poorly controlled inflammation of IBD
    • Patients with a high degree of pain and difficulty coping

“We believe we will ultimately be able to use this information to prevent hospitalization, since we now have better insight into the heterogeneous factors which are getting our patients into trouble,” added Dr. Binion. “Our next step is to set up an intervention trial, where patterns of telephone activity will be used as an early warning strategy to identify at-risk patients. Perhaps the most important aspect of the study was its simplicity and generalizability, as records of telephone communication in health care are an important part of electronic health records available throughout the U.S.”

Page 10 of 45:« First« 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 »Last »