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UPMC Clinicians Win Grants to Engage Patients, Improve Care

July 25, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Clinicians and other staff at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) have been awarded 11 new grants by the Beckwith Institute for projects aimed to better engage patients and improve care.

The wide-ranging projects include an effort to develop a shared decision-making tool for family members of patients in intensive care units (ICUs) and the creation of an interactive, Web-based “thermometer” to monitor the mood and energy of adolescents with bipolar disorder.

The grants are administered through two complementary efforts: the Frontline Innovation Program, which focuses on improving the patient bedside experience, and the Clinical Transformation Program, which supports comprehensive redesign of processes to put the involvement of the patient and their loved ones at the core.

Supported by UPMC Chairman G. Nicholas Beckwith and his wife, Dotty, with matching funds from UPMC, the Beckwith Institute annually provides grants to improve clinical outcomes by empowering both clinicians and patients to explore innovative ways of transforming healthcare.

“Through the inspiring leadership and generous financial assistance of Nick and Dotty Beckwith, we are able to empower clinicians and other staff to experiment with new methods for transforming care delivery,” Tami Minnier, UPMC chief quality officer, said in a news release statement. “At the heart of every project chosen for this program is an emphasis on engaging and educating patients and families so that they can play a meaningful role in the healthcare decisions that affect them.”

The projects awarded 2014-2015 grants include:

  • A novel “mood and energy” tracking application for patients with pediatric bipolar disorder
  • A mobile application that allows patients to track and navigate the complex organ transplant process
  • A Web-based communication and decision support tool to improve the quality of shared decision-making in the ICU and to prepare family members for the role of surrogate decision maker
  • Use of personal health monitoring devices for elderly patients with heart disease to promote patient engagement and prevent complications
  • An effort to assess patients for readmission risk and to ensure appropriate outreach after hospital discharge
  • Resources to engage pediatric patients in diabetes care
  • Standardization of sexual assault care at UPMC facilities
  • An asthma education program for children that includes a nurse hotline and online patient portal
  • A decision-making tool to help patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease make informed treatment decisions
  • Development of a protocol that can be used to safely identify and discharge blunt trauma patients who have sustained no significant injury
  • A multidisciplinary effort to reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions for patients with complex health needs

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