UPMC Enterprises has started Curavi Health to provide a telemedicine solution and physician care for skilled care facilities.

Created by Steven Handler, M.D., Ph.D., who is now Curavi’s chief medical and innovation officer, the company began in 2012 under a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Innovation Grant. Since then, the telemedicine system has allowed quicker care, Handler told McKnight’s.

“We work with the nurse and make the nurse part of the caregiving team, and provide the resident with a voice,” he said. “It’s simple things such as if there’s shortness of breath we can listen to the lungs and see if it’s heart failure or not. Within an hour, we can improve their symptoms without having sent them to the hospital.”

The CuraviCart equipment lets physicians remotely interact with patients and staff through a pan/tilt/zoom camera, Bluetooth stethoscope, digital otoscope, document scanner and EKG system.

Handler said Curavi helps the resident, family and nursing staff, especially those on nights and weekends.

“Lots of time they don’t have enough help and are desperate for another set of eyes and ears,” Handler said.

Curavi has a formal relationship with University of Pittsburgh Physicians to provide after-hours consults. The company plans to add UPMC physicians in areas such as geriatric psychiatry and cardiology in the next few months.

By avoiding one hospitalization per month, the system pays for itself, Handler said. Curavi has trained more than 1,000 nurses and healthcare professionals in telemedicine and reduced more than 100 avoidable hospitalizations at both UPMC and non-UPMC facilities since 2012.

Curavi expects to offer a “bring your own provider” solution in under six months that will allow providers to use their own attending physicians for on-demand telemedicine consults.