1st of 2 parts
By JIM STOMMEN
Medical Device Daily Contributing Writer
Steve Allen, MD, has been CEO of Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, since July 2006. Allen is credited to driving the hospital's national prominence resulting in recognition as one of the best children's hospitals by both U.S. News and World Report and Parent magazine. Prior to coming to Columbus, Steve was a physician, scientist, teacher and executive in the Texas Medical Center in Houston for 24 years. He is board-certified in anesthesiology and critical care medicine.
Allen, who also chairs the Ohio Children's Hospital Association, which formed the Ohio Children's Hospitals Solutions for Patient Safety (OCHSPS) initiative, talked with Medical Device Daily Contributing Writer Jim Stommen about that effort, which is now spreading its wings to become national in scope.
MDD: What was the genesis of the National Children's Network? What are its goals?
Allen: It started off as an Ohio-specific effort in 2009 as a partnership between the business community in our state and the eight children's hospitals in Ohio to improve the quality of care that we're delivering to our patients and to reduce overall healthcare costs. Our goal was to make Ohio the safest place in the country for children to receive care. Once we were able to demonstrate some pretty significant results in Ohio, we've been able to secure some money to support us spreading this nationally, through the Ohio Children's Hospital Solutions for Patient Safety National Learning Network.
MDD: How does the Children's Network fit into the Partnership for Patients initiative, and how are these efforts being funded?
Allen: Our ability to export what we've learned here in Ohio is being funded through the Partnership for Patients initiative, which is a public/private collaboration aimed at improving the quality, safety and affordability of healthcare for all Americans. It's led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. There are 26 hospital engagement networks that are funded under this initiative. The Ohio Children's Hospital Solutions for Patient Safety, or OCHSPS, is one of them and is the only one that is focused on pediatric care and reducing Medicaid costs associated with care for children.
MDD: OCHSPS is the only one of the 26 Hospital Engagement Networks involved in the Partnership for Patients initiative focused on pediatric care. What special challenges has that focus carried with it?
Allen: Since pediatric care is what we do each and every day, I'm not sure there's anything in particular that is a special challenge, other than that some of the things that we're trying to reduce and prevent altogether occur both in children and adults, while some of them are unique to children. Some of those differences include the equipment that we use, the size of the patient, changes in drug dosages, changes in the patient population. I don't know if it's a special challenge it's just different.
MDD: Because they're pediatric patients, do you find it an easier sell, if you will, in terms of getting all of the staff on board, as well as those with relationships to your patients in terms of the follow-through on the cleanliness side of it?
Allen: I would hesitate to do a comparison, because this is the only place I know about, but I'd say that people who work in children's hospitals seem to be very mission-driven, and once we educate them on how to better take care of children and protect them, people don't hesitate to jump on board.
MDD: Could you relate some of the statistical measurements from Ohio's efforts?
Allen: We've had a 60% reduction in surgical-site infections for designated surgeries. We've had a 34-1/2% reduction in overall adverse drug events. Those efforts have saved more than 7,700 children from unnecessary harm and avoided about $11.8 million in unnecessary healthcare costs since the project started. In addition, we set a goal this year of reducing serious safety events by half, and we've already achieved that goal. Now our goal is to eliminate those altogether.
MDD: Another Ohio-based organization, Cardinal Health, is providing significant financial support to OCHSPS. How important is it that a large supplier of healthcare products sees this as an effort worthy of its financial support?
Allen: It underscores that what we're doing not only is right for patients and families, it's also right from the business and economic perspective. The Cardinal Health Foundation has made it a priority to improve safety in healthcare and has put their dollars to work to fund initiatives like ours that have an impact. Obviously we're very grateful for their support, because otherwise we wouldn't have come as far as we have in a fairly short period of time. We've had several other companies support us as well, and that really helps spur us forward.
(Next week, in Part 2 of this MDD Interview, Steve Allen discusses what healthcare is learning from other industries in terms of dealing with safety issues, how Ohio's effort has been marked by a high degree of collaboration in what traditionally is a very competitive business, and how gratifying it is to see those institutions share sometimes-painful lessons learned in the process.)
Published October 11, 2012