University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has created an independent supply chain analytics company, Pensiamo, and has aligned with IBM to take advantage of the computing giant’s cognitive analytics technology.

UPMC owns a majority share of Pensiamo and is the first client; IBM is a minority owner.

Supply chain costs are the second-largest and fasting-growing expense behind labor costs for providers, according to UPMC and IBM. The goal of the initiative is to better understand costs at a patient-specific level and where controls on costs can be established.

UPMC brings supply chain expertise, and IBM brings its expertise in non-medical procurement services and its Watson analytics capabilities to find supply chain approaches that can be tailored to specialties, patient populations and other metrics of a hospital.

Pensiamo is the second major UPMC data initiative in recent months. In March, the delivery system said it would fund six projects from the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance, investing more than $3 million over six months, to develop technology to reduce falls, prevent and monitor pressure ulcers, improve the accuracy of cancer diagnoses and develop personalized treatment recommendations. Investigative researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are part of that project.

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