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Patient Safety and Technology Full Court Press Team Launches

Patient Safety Policy Team members attend the first virtual Full Court Press Team meeting.

The Full Court Press Patient Safety Policy Team, which advocates for a National Patient and Provider Safety Authority (NPSA), convened in November for their first virtual meeting. Team members, who include Board members from JHF and its operating arm, the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative (PRHI), were joined by key national thought leaders, bringing together centuries of combined experience and industry knowledge to help build effective policies. "The idea of centralizing and elevating provider and patient safety has catapulted to the attention of those who can make it happen… We're on the court today with all the right players," said Steve Irwin, JD, a Co-Chair of the Team and PRHI Board.

The Team builds on JHF's and PRHI's decades of work in patient safety, and combines two of the organizations' recent initiatives (SWERVE and Liftoff PGH) at the intersection of patient safety and innovation. After first recommending an NPSA in 2007, the Foundation's SWERVE initiative is reviving its advocacy for an NPSA, and Liftoff PGH is JHF's project to elevate health innovations in the Pittsburgh region that will culminate in a December 2020 virtual health innovation conference. Together, these two initiatives, guided by the new Patient Safety Policy Team, will advance the NPSA policy agenda and maximize the benefits of a centralized, national patient safety approach based in powerful data analytics and autonomous technologies. The transportation industry has been doing this successfully for years with the National Transportation Safety Board, a model that can be adapted to support a national standard of safety for both patients and providers.

The beginnings of automated tech are already seen in today's healthcare, and there are many opportunities for future innovations. During the first Team meeting, Michael McShea, MS, MBA, Health System Innovation Lead for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), shared how data collection and autonomous tech like artificial intelligence and machine learning can combine to boost safety of care. Johns Hopkins is already leveraging this technology with their state-of-the-art command and control center that remotely monitors and manages patient care to prevent and resolve problems 24/7. McShea also highlighted MDIRA, an APL-supported framework that can help medical systems work safely and effectively together and involves autonomous technology. In the future of healthcare, these models could easily be re-purposed to monitor and act on the data gathered by autonomous patient safety technologies across the nation.

David Classen, MD, MS, Chief Medical Informatics Officer at patient safety organization Pascal Metrics, further built the case for using current and future technologies to support an NPSA. He explained that, by mining data from all types of existing electronic health records, health systems and hospitals have the ability to effectively monitor and anticipate medical errors. "We've already demonstrated, with current EHRs, that we can move into a real-time detection and intervention system with safety," Classen said, noting that this successful approach could easily be employed at a national level, using artificial intelligence and machine learning. "It is possible, literally with today's current technology, to develop an NPSA-like approach."

Gary Kaplan, MD, Chairman and CEO of Virginia Mason Medical Center, expanded on the role of command centers in a safety focused organization. He said, "Command Centers are critical to our ability as complex adaptive systems to actually understand what we are doing and understand how we're doing it, and to monitor its impact." To support an NPSA, health systems could repurpose their command centers to autonomously monitor and alert care teams and family members of patient safety events. Kaplan pointed to the importance of addressing barriers, such as myths about cost, and the resistance to change that often exists within health systems. When moving towards effective, autonomous patient safety monitoring, "It takes both great people and great systems working together," he said.

Other key guests for the first meeting included Carolyn Clancy, MD, Assistant Undersecretary for Health, Discovery, Education and Affiliate Networks (DEAN) of the Department of Veterans Affairs; James Gelfand, JD, Senior Vice President of Health Policy at the ERISA Industry Committee at ERIC; Helen Haskell, MA, Founder and President of Mothers Against Medical Error; Marty Hatlie, JD, Co-Director of the MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety and CEO of Project Patient Care; David Mayer, MD, CEO of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation and Executive Director of the MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety; Elizabeth Mitchell, President and CEO of the Pacific Business Group on Health; Tom Mitchell, PhD, E. Fredkin University Professor, Machine Learning Department, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University; Scott Newton, DNP, RN, MHA, Executive Director of Clinical Operations at TeleTracking, Inc.; Janis M. Orlowski, MD, MACP, Chief Health Care Officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges; and Lisa Simpson, MB, BCh, MPH, FAAP, President & CEO of AcademyHealth.

The Team has plans to advance autonomous technology efforts through the Liftoff PGH 2020 conference happening in December, and to promote the NPSA through policy tactics and coalitions going into 2021, including at one of the newly announced 2021 Academy Health salons. With the combined experience of all involved, JHF is well-positioned to make an impact to improve health across the nation. 

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