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United Network for Organ Sharing Will Use Technology, Data Tools to Expedite Organ Transplants

June 14, 2016
by Heather Landi
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Transplant centers and organ procurement organizations announced an initiative to use electronic data exchange capabilities and new data tools to speed up the organ matching and donation process.

The United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees the nation’s transplant system, the Organ Procurement Transplantation Network (OPTN), announced its efforts to use new technology and data tools to increase efficiencies in the organ procurement and transplant system as well as the potential number of transplants at the White House Organ Summit Monday.

The Obama Administration has announced a number of initiatives and actions as part of an effort to reduce the organ transplant waiting list and support living donors.

UNOS, which serves as the nation’s transplant network under contract with the Health Services and Resources Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has committed to efforts to increase efficiencies in the organ procurement and transplant system.

By the end of 2016, UNOS plans to implement electronic data exchange capabilities to expedite delivery of critical and time sensitive information between organ procurement organizations (OPOs), transplant centers, histocompatibility labs and UNOS. The organization is building interfaces (commonly known as APIs) to connect with OPO systems in 2016 and will soon develop interfaces to work with transplant hospital electronic medical records (EMRs).

“This interconnectivity can remove barriers that cause delays in procuring organs for patients. Implementation of this data exchange will dramatically reduce hospital data burden (manual entry of information) and improve data quality. Reducing the cost of collecting data will make it possible to build a more comprehensive database, creating future opportunities for research and innovation,” the organization stated in a press release.

UNOS also will build on TransNet software, a technology platform initially developed through an HHS Innovation project in conjunction with HRSA that uses barcode scanning technology to accurately label and track organs shipped for transplantation.

According to UNOS, organ procurement staff use TransNet in the operating room to accurately label, package and track organs and other biologic material being shipped for transplantation. Forty-six of the 58 organ procurement organizations in the United States have been trained on TransNet so far. Its use will be required by all OPOs beginning June, 1, 2017. In addition, UNOS has built and is pilot testing TransNet functions for transplant hospitals to expedite check-in and confirmation of blood type for organs they receive.

And, the organization also will work to create a technology platform that will allow transplant centers and behavioral research science researchers to work together to test new ways of improving the organ offer system. This will allow rapid and cooperative evaluation of potential improvements to organ utilization and allocation.

“These technology initiatives will speed the matching process and support the work of hospitals and OPOs to get transplants to more patients,” UNOS CEO Brian Shepard said in a statement.

UNOS also will conduct two studies, one on the feasibility of collecting new information and another modifying existing transplant center performance monitoring and assessing best practices to increase utilization of moderate to high-risk kidneys.

Among the initiatives announced Monday, more than 30 transplant centers announced a collaboration to share data and best practices for kidney transplants for hard-to-match patients, which has the potential to help almost 1,000 more people a year access transplants.

The Department of Defense (DOD) has committed to $160 million in public-private investment in a new Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Manufacturing Innovation Institute to research and develop next-generation manufacturing techniques that can be used to repair and replace cells and tissues and that may one day lead to organ replacement. DOD also is announcing $7 million in awards to small businesses working to advance the science and technology of organ and tissue preservation.

The American Society of Nephrology (ASN) commits the first $7 million toward the design, launch, and execution of a potential Kidney Disease XPRIZE, in partnership with the XPRIZE Foundation.

In addition, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) is announcing a three year, $4.2 million grant to launch the Donor Management Research Institute—a collaboration between researchers at UNOS, the Oregon Health and Sciences University, the University of California San Francisco, and several organ procurement organizations around the country. The Institute will seek to produce new evidence-based standards of care by expanding a national, web-based donor management portal and conducting rigorous randomized controlled trials to test donor interventions that maximize the quantity and quality of life-saving organs each donor is able to give.




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