RAPS Salon Highlights Patient Safety Research Support and Projects Underway at the University of Pittsburgh

Pictured from left to right are RAPS speakers: Aman Mahajan, Ron Poropatich, Evan Facher, Alexander Sundermann, and Matthew Neal.

The November 16 RAPS Salon highlighted some of the patient safety research at the University of Pittsburgh and how it is working with UPMC to become a laboratory for research, discovery, and commercialization of patient safety innovation.

The Salon featured presentations by Aman Mahajan, MD, PhD, MBA, Senior VP of Health Innovation, UPMC Enterprises, and Peter and Eva Safar Professor and Chair, Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine, University of Pittsburgh; Alexander Sundermann, DrPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh; Ron Poropatich, MD, MS, Director of the Center for Military Medicine Research, University of Pittsburgh; Matthew Neal, MD, Vice Chair of Surgery, Academic Affairs; Director of Emergency General Surgery, and Roberta G. Simmons Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; and Evan Facher, PhD, MBA, Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, University of Pittsburgh, and Associate Dean for Commercial Translation, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Dr. Mahajan, the founder and chief technology officer for three startups in the med-tech field, presented on "Predicting and Modifying Risk to Improve Outcomes," which highlighted how development and validation of a machine learning model to identify patients before surgery at high risk for postoperative adverse events. Tools like the surgical risk calculator are important because identifying the risk allows the healthcare team to automatically trigger pathways and protocols to improve patient outcomes both in the short-term and up to two years out from when they received care.

Dr. Poropatich presented "Field Testing of the Trauma Care in a Rucksack (TRACIR) Closed Loop Diagnosis and Resuscitation System for the Medical Management of Circulatory Shock," cross-disciplinary, cross-institutional research that creates a system to resuscitate, stabilize, and evacuate a patient in the field using AI. Funded by the Department of Defense and the National Institute of Health, TRACIR has been found to provide successful outcomes for people in areas where there are limited resources, disaster, mass casualty, and large-scale combat operations. TRACIR is currently being used in Ukraine, which is driving the pace of its development in the U.S. military and in the civilian sector.

Dr. Sunderman shared his research "Whole-Genome Sequencing Surveillance and Machine Learning of the Electronic Health Record for Enhanced Healthcare Outbreak Detection," which is working to change the paradigm of how hospitals and healthcare systems detect and intervene detection and investigation of healthcare associated outbreaks of infectious disease in hospital settings using genomic epidemiology. By coupling the recent development of affordable genomic sequencing with computer algorithms connected to the vast trove of data in electronic health records, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Carnegie Mellon University scientists greatly improved the quick detection of infectious disease outbreaks within a hospital setting over traditional methods for tracking outbreaks.

With a prerecorded video, Dr. Neal shared his presentation "UPMC Emergency General Surgery Verification Program," outlining the poor outcomes in emergency general surgery, where 11 percent of admissions are surgical admissions, however they account for 50 percent of surgical mortality in the United States. In response to this, UPMC has taken on leadership in a nationwide emergency general surgery verification program that has a triaged approach to care, including standards addressing both timeliness and team availability; recognition of the value of clinically relevant emergency general surgery data to drive quality improvement including the development of a new Targeted Registry Module; and a multi-disciplinary approach to care and quality, with involvement of the full array of care team members.

Dr. Facher oversees Pitt's Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship which inspires, educates, and enables others to make an impact on society, improve the regional economy, and transform their own careers. The office is composed of four units: The Innovation Institute, the Office of Industry and Economic Partnerships, the Big Idea Center for student innovation, and the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence.

On the average year, it creates between 13 and 20 new startup companies based on university technologies and performs about 150 transactions with third parties, giving them access to university intellectual property. Pitt has also established LifeX, a life science incubator, that works with early-stage companies on education, acceleration, and direct investment to help foster and grow an ecosystem in and around southwestern Pennsylvania to grow health science-based and life-science based companies to bring about an economic and societal benefit locally. With a $16-17 million venture fund, it also directly invests in local startups.

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