UO startup is purchased by health care software company

Doctor using tablet

A UO health care startup launched to improve health outcomes for patients has been acquired by Phreesia, a publicly owned company that automates and manages patient intake.

Insignia Health uses a copyrighted and trademarked tool known as the Patient Activation Measure, developed by a team of researchers led by UO professor emerita Judith Hibbard. The research was part of Hibbard’s decades-long work to bring patients’ needs and participation to the forefront of health care.

The application of Patient Activation Measure results has been shown to contribute directly to improved health outcomes and lower cost of health care for patients, said Chris Delaney, the CEO and co-founder of Insignia Health.

“When we first created PAM, we wanted to provide clinicians with a tool to quickly and easily understand a patient’s ability to self-manage their health care, so they could individualize their approach and better engage their patients through tailored, incremental changes,” said Hibbard, part of the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management and a faculty fellow in the UO’s Health Policy Research Group.

“When PAM score increases are used as a metric for high-quality care, as some delivery systems are currently doing, it fundamentally changes the way care is delivered,” she said. “It is very exciting to have the opportunity to implement the measure and the related intervention approaches at a scale we had always hoped for.”

Hibbard will continue to serve in an advisory role to Phreesia.

The health care software company said it acquired Insignia Health so it can better empower patients to be more active participants in their health care. The company highlighted Insignia’s reputation and success in their announcement of the sale.

“The Patient Activation Measure is widely viewed as the gold standard of patient activation measures, supported by more than 700 peer-reviewed studies published in leading healthcare journals over the past 17 years,” Phreesia shared in a press release.

In addition to being validated by such a wide body of research, the Patient Activation Measure has also been used by institutions including the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Great Britain’s National Health Service.      

"The University of Oregon fostered the development of PAM and began the collaboration with researchers across the world to build the evidence for this important measure, and the health activation model it anchors," said Delaney, the Insignia Health CEO. "Today, PAM is the global standard for measuring a patient’s self-management ability, and importantly, to use this new vital sign to improve patient care. We are grateful that UO trusted Insignia Health to be PAM’s steward on this journey."

Insignia Health received a grant from the University Venture Development Fund, which provides donors who are Oregon residents with a state tax credit for their contributions. Their investments help scientific discoveries at the UO become commercially viable.

Chuck Williams, the UO’s associate vice president for research and innovation, said he expects to see more success stories like Insignia’s as the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact and other UO units emphasize biotechnology and launch startups in coordination with the UO’s Innovation Initiative.

“Professor Hibbard is an example of one of UO's successful female faculty innovators and entrepreneurs, which we hope to grow through the Women’s Innovation Network,” he said.

"Phreesia's acquisition of Insignia Health, and the Patient Activation Measure, demonstrates the value of the contributions UO faculty like Judith Hibbard make by innovating new ways to help people, in this case by enabling patients to take control of their medical care," said Cass Moseley, interim vice president for research and innovation.

By Emily Halnon, University Communications