Health Care Redesign Expo Showcases Pittsburgh Safety Tech Innovators

Grand prize-winning team al-GO-rithm pictured with the five judges (L to R): Tamra Minnier, Rick Cancelliere, Morgan Birdy, Callum Harding, Paul Phrampus, Jim Jen, and Tina Hahn.

How would you deploy cutting edge technology, out-of-the-box thinking, and interdisciplinary perspectives to reshape longstanding safety issues plaguing today's patients? Thirty graduate students and innovators spent the summer focused on that very challenge, participating in the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF)'s Patient Safety Challenge Fellowship that culminated with the Health Care Redesign Expo and Award Ceremony on August 14 at the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh. The event featured 12 project teams competing for a $5,000 grand prize for the most compelling safety idea to transform care.

The five judges reviewed video and written submissions from all the teams in the week preceding the finale, and then questioned teams during the event before convening together to determine the grand prize winner. The judges considered how the ideas addressed the seven dimensions of the projects (safety, technology, patient and family engagement, equity, healthcare delivery, workforce and accountability), and discussed what in tech safety innovation is highly likely to succeed at the frontline, and what is the most novel approach. The judges included: Rick Cancelliere, CEO, Treatspace; Tina Hahn, VP, CIN development and value-based integration, Allegheny Health Network and Physician Partners of Western PA; Jim Jen, MA, MBA, distinguished service professor of entrepreneurship, Carnegie Mellon University; Tamra Minnier, MSN, RN, FACHE, FAAN, chief quality officer, UPMC; and Paul E. Phrampus, MD, CPE, FSSH, FACEP, CPPS, vice chair of quality and patient safety, Department of Emergency Medicine, UPMC.

The grand prize-winning idea, al-GO-rithm, came from Morgan Birdy, Master of Health Administration student at Tulane University, and Callum Harding, data business analyst at Holmusk, and set out to prevent falls in the inpatient setting for senior patients. Al-GO-rithm uses real-time EHR data to predict when a patient will attempt to use the restroom in order to improve time management and resource allocation, therefore decreasing the risk of unassisted falls, one of the leading causes of harm in U.S. hospitals.

"Patient safety issues can be overwhelming, but the JHF Patient Safety Challenge Fellowship illustrated that, although large, the problem can be dramatically decreased through involved collaboration, out-of-the-box thinking, and impactful legislation," said Harding, a member of the winning team. "Our team greatly benefited from the speakers and mentors provided during the fellowship as we refined our idea to try and address falls within inpatient settings. We were thrilled to win the final prize and look forward to carrying our lessons forward to help make health care safer.

Karen Wolk Feinstein applauds the work of the fellows and outlines the need for continued attention to patient safety.

Attendees also had the opportunity to vote for their favorite project, bestowing the People's Choice Award to the project team, Road System: Reducing Opioid Overdoses and Deaths in PA, composed of Jennifer Callear, MSN, doctor of nursing practice candidate at the University of Pittsburgh, Vincent DeStefino, senior medical student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Tracey Obi, health informatics student at the University of Pittsburgh, Mark Rhoge, neuroscience student at the University of Pittsburgh, and Thomas Tam, machine learning researcher at Carnegie Mellon University. Their project proposed an AI predictive model for risk assessment for addiction, overdose, and overdose-associated deaths and the creation of a centralized database and EHR-compatible communication hub for coordinating management and supportive resources based on predicted risk.

Above and beyond the winners at the event, the Redesign Expo embodied the spirit of the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative's Regional Autonomous Patient Safety (RAPS) initiative through its interdisciplinary and cross-industry/institution collaborations. The evening saw fellows, judges, mentors, and attendees from dozens of areas of expertise tackling patient safety challenges, discussing the potential of novel technology, and identifying where opportunities exist to make transformational change.

Other projects included Korion Health, which introduced the SoundHeart Electronic Stethoscope, an affordable electronic stethoscope along with a guided interface that anyone can use from the comfort of their home, aiming to address access issues for patients with heart failure risks; Community Ability Tech, a custom device manufacturing solution aiming to increase accessibility of assistive technology using 3D printers to drive down costs and improve safety for disabled individuals; MARA, an AI technology approach to combating the multifaceted challenges of polypharmacy; and Modus Vivendi, an augmented reality intervention tailored for adolescents and adults with schizophrenia to support healthier and safer integration back into their daily routines after an inpatient stay.

The Patient Safety Challenge Fellowship brought another of PRHI's initiatives, the Patient Safety Technology Challenge, back home to Pittsburgh to fuel the engagement of students and innovators in creating solutions and envisioning transformational approaches to reduce preventable harm from medical errors. 

Thirty-one fellows formed 13 teams consisting of fellows and non-fellows to craft novel visions of safer health care.
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