Health app developer Abridge is expanding to telehealth to better serve people who aren’t able to meet with their physicians face-to-face because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The app created by Abridge, a UPMC Enterprises portfolio company based in Pittsburgh, has been used by thousands of UPMC patients to record conversations with their providers during office visits. Powered by artificial intelligence, the app generates after-visit summaries for users to review on their own, with family, or other caregivers.
However, as social distancing measures ramped up in response to COVID-19 and care shifted from in-person to telehealth visits, Abridge recognized the need to help its users in these new settings. The company also saw that people using telehealth, many for the first time and while observing stay-at-home orders, could be more distracted and less likely to recall their doctors’ orders.
“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. We hope that Abridge will help people stay on top of their health, from home to hospital,” said Shiv Rao, MD, co-founder of Abridge and a UPMC cardiologist.
To address this potential communication gap, Abridge now allows some UPMC doctors to simply call their patients through an Abridge-enabled phone number, without any additional technology. With consent from both patient and physician, the calls are recorded by Abridge. Abridge automatically transcribes the conversations, and, using clinical natural language processing, key medical terms and instructions are highlighted for easy review and with helpful links to additional information.
After the call is over, the patient receives a text message from Abridge with information on how to access their summary via the Abridge app. For in-person or video appointments, users can access the Abridge app on their smartphones or tablets to record a physician visit.
Based on UPMC’s experience with Abridge during COVID-19, UPMC and Abridge plan to soon move the summaries from phone visits into the electronic health record to better facilitate care coordination.
Founded in 2018, Abridge emerged from the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance, a collaboration among UPMC, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to Rao, the company was co-founded by Sandeep Konam and Florian Metze of Carnegie Mellon.