A UPMC spin-out focused on infectious disease care has acquired the technology assets of a subsidiary of pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., the companies said Tuesday.
Under the agreement, Merck's ILÚM Health Solutions will become part of Infectious Disease Connect, a UPMC-backed specialty telemedicine company for infectious disease care. ILÚM Health Solutions sells clinical decision-support, precision antibiotic therapy, and other technologies and services to support hospitals with infectious disease management.
Dave Zynn, CEO of ID Connect, declined to share financial details of the transaction, but said the health system's innovation and commercialization arm UPMC Enterprises and the Merck Global Health Innovation Fund will each invest $5 million into ID Connect as part of the deal. UPMC will retain a majority stake in the company.
ID Connect will continue to serve ILÚM's hospital customers and add most of its employees to the combined company.
"It was always in our business plan that we wanted to create some type of a software platform" to expand ID Connect's services, Zynn said.
Since integrating ILÚM's customers, the company now serves 20 healthcare organizations across nine states. Most of those customers are acute-care hospitals in rural regions.
As an investor, Merck Global Health Innovation Fund will have a seat on ID Connect's board.
That involves supporting ID Connect's leadership with strategy, recruiting or getting access to additional capital—"doing all the things we would normally do to support an investment," said Joel Krikston, managing director at Merck Global Health Innovation Fund.
UPMC formed ID Connect, which connects infectious disease specialists at UPMC with patients and physicians at community hospitals, last year following the success of the health system's tele-infectious disease program, which launched in 2013. UPMC's infectious disease specialists provide consultation and treatment services.
ID Connect tackles three main areas: patient care, antimicrobial stewardship, and consulting with hospitals about infection prevention and control.
The consulting piece has proven to be a particular area of interest among hospitals in recent weeks, as facilities begin to reopen for non-emergent care in the wake of COVID-19, Zynn said.
ID Connect fills a particular need in the healthcare landscape, the company says, given a nationwide shortage of physicians specializing in infectious disease. The medical specialty consistently ranks as having one of the highest percentages of vacant positions in fellowship programs, three specialists wrote in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases in 2017.
"Infectious diseases are going to be here to stay," said Dr. Rima Abdel-Massih, ID Connect's chief medical officer. "Today, it's COVID-19; tomorrow, it's going to be something else."