New, non-pharmaceutical treatment for panic disorder now offered at AHN through VITAL

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Highmark Health, Allegheny Health Network and Palo Alto Health Sciences have announced that the Freespira Breathing System is being made avail­able to patients who suffer from panic disorder and symp­toms of panic through Highmark Health’s new VITAL Innovation Platform.

Cleared by the FDA in 2013, Freespira is a non-​pharmaceutical, non-​invasive 4 week treat­ment that is clin­i­cally proven to help reduce or elim­i­nate symp­toms of panic disorder, a mental health condi­tion in which debil­i­tating anxiety and fear arise frequently and without apparent cause. Panic symp­toms include sweating, trem­bling, short­ness of breath, chest discom­fort, dizzi­ness or nausea. During an episode people may believe that they are having a heart attack or stroke, that they are suffo­cating, or that they are losing their mind.

We created the VITAL program to provide promising new, FDA-​cleared treat­ments to patients without undue delay or complexity,” said Dr. Alan J. Russell, Chief Innovation Officer and Executive Vice President, Allegheny Health Network.

People with panic disorder may not realize it, but they breathe differ­ently than other people all of the time, not just when they are having a panic episode . With direc­tion from a ther­a­pist, the patient receives crit­ical respi­ra­tion feed­back to help them normalize their breathing pattern, which has been clin­i­cally shown to reduce or elim­i­nate panic symp­toms.

We are pleased to have Freespira selected for the VITAL program,” said Debra Reisenthel, CEO of Palo Alto Health Sciences Inc. We believe that Freespira is already making a posi­tive differ­ence in patients’ lives. They are able to re-​engage in situ­a­tions they had been avoiding for years. In addi­tion, panic disorder repre­sents signif­i­cant costs to the health system, and Freespira can help reduce these costs while improving the lives of patients.”

In a recently presented Freespira clin­ical trial, 98% of patients demon­strated panic symptom reduc­tion and 64% were free from panic episodes after the four-​week Freespira treat­ment. In previous clin­ical trials, 96% of patients expe­ri­enced symptom reduc­tion and 68% of patients remained panic attack free at 12 months.

The Freespira treat­ment is partic­u­larly impor­tant because of the speed and effi­cacy demon­strated through the clin­ical trials,” said Dr. Van Nickell, System Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Allegheny Health Network. Patients got well quickly and many saw a return to normal life. By contrast, other current ther­a­pies show more incon­sis­tent results.”

In the United States, over 6 million people annu­ally suffer from panic disorder. Panic episodes which affect a total of 27 million adults in the U.S. every year are also a common compo­nent of other anxiety disor­ders. Over $5 billion is spent annu­ally in the U.S. on medica­tions and cogni­tive therapy to treat panic disorder.

VITAL’s mission is to leverage Highmark Health’s posi­tion as one of the largest inte­grated health care delivery and financing systems in the nation to accel­erate the pace with which novel tech­nolo­gies and services are made avail­able to our customers. In doing so, members and patients will be afforded access to safe new tech­nolo­gies without undue finan­cial burden while payers will be able to under­stand the full impact of new tech­nolo­gies on their members without changing insur­ance medical policy prema­turely. Additionally, providers will gain early access to novel tech­nolo­gies and a first-​hand under­standing of their impact on patients. Technology vendors will have the oppor­tu­nity to prove the bene­fits of their new inno­va­tions to patients, providers and payers.

For more infor­ma­tion or to call for an appoint­ment, please check https://​www​.ahn​.org/​f​r​e​e​spira.


About Allegheny Health Network
Allegheny Health Network is an inte­grated health care delivery system serving the Western Pennsylvania region. The network is comprised of eight hospi­tals, including Allegheny General Hospital (its flag­ship acad­emic medical center), Allegheny Valley Hospital, Canonsburg Hospital, Forbes Hospital, Jefferson Hospital, Saint Vincent Hospital, Westfield Memorial Hospital and West Penn Hospital; a research insti­tute; Health + Wellness Pavilions; and a health care group purchasing orga­ni­za­tion. The network employs approx­i­mately 17,000 people, including more than 2,100 physi­cians on its medical staff. The network also serves as a clin­ical campus for both Temple University School of Medicine and Drexel University College of Medicine.

About Highmark Health
Highmark Health, a Pittsburgh, PA based enter­prise that employs more than 35,000 people nation­wide and serves 40 million Americans in all 50 states, is the third largest inte­grated health care delivery and financing network in the nation. Highmark Health is the parent company of Highmark Inc., Allegheny Health Network, and HM Health Solutions. Highmark Inc. and its subsidiaries and affil­i­ates provide health insur­ance to 5.3 million members in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware as well as dental insur­ance, vision care and related health prod­ucts through a national network of diver­si­fied busi­nesses that include United Concordia Companies, HM Insurance Group, Davis Vision and Visionworks. Allegheny Health Network is the parent company of an inte­grated delivery network that includes eight hospi­tals, a community-​based network of physi­cian orga­ni­za­tions, and a group purchasing orga­ni­za­tion, ambu­la­tory surgery centers, and health and well­ness pavil­ions in western Pennsylvania. HM Health Solutions focuses on meeting the infor­ma­tion tech­nology plat­form and other busi­ness needs of the Highmark Health enter­prise as well as unaf­fil­i­ated health insur­ance plans by providing proven busi­ness processes, expert knowl­edge and inte­grated cloud-​based plat­forms. To learn more, please visit www​.high​markhealth​.org. More details about Highmark Health’s VITAL Innovation Platform can be found at: http://​vital​in​no​va​tion​pro​gram​.org.

About Palo Alto Health Sciences
Palo Alto Health Sciences, Inc. is a privately held medical device company based in Danville, CA dedi­cated to addressing mental health condi­tions with evidenced –based, non-​invasive, pharmaceutical- free solu­tions. The Freespira Breathing System is commer­cially avail­able throughout the United States. To learn more, please visit http://​www​.frees​pira​.com or contact info@​pahealthsciences.​com.