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Managed Care Partners - How to not reinvent the wheel

Managed Care Partners Summer 2012

How to not reinvent the wheel

Date: June 1, 2012

Hanan Aboumatar and Mark Cochran display a perioperative handoff protocol that Johns Hopkins is offering to other health care providers.
Hanan Aboumatar and Mark Cochran display a perioperative handoff protocol that Johns Hopkins is offering to other health care providers.

When Johns Hopkins anesthesiologist Michelle Petrovic spoke recently to hospital leaders about a surgical handoff system she helped develop, she described the complexity of transferring patients from the operating room to their next destination. Moving patients to the intensive care unit or postanesthesia care unit can require a diverse group including attending and resident physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and technicians who all are charged with communicating vital information in surroundings rich with distractions.

“Perioperative handoffs pose more risks for errors than many handoffs because they involve multidisciplinary interactions,” Petrovic told listeners from around the country during an informational webinar. “The toolkit we’ve created offers a five-step process that improves information sharing and also levels the playing field between practitioners.”

The perioperative handoff protocol—based on research conducted by Petrovic; Hanan Aboumatar, an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine; and anesthesiologist Elizabeth Martinez, formerly of Hopkins—improves patient safety by systematically guiding how providers exchange technology and information. It also fulfills the Joint Commission’s handoff criteria for accredited hospitals.

Information from a 2009 pilot study of the protocol used in The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s cardiac surgical intensive care unit—an approach that has since become the standard of care for all adult perioperative handoffs at the hospital—has been packaged into a 25-page handbook and 18-minute video now being marketed by Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM).

Priced at $975, the Perioperative Handoff Tool Kit is one of five intellectual property products Hopkins is selling through Medimetrix Solutions EXchange ( an online health care marketplace offering hospitals and health care systems opportunities to buy and sell health care management tools, organizational protocols, educational materials and care guidelines.

As a result, Petrovic has been working with a group of anesthesiologists in Cape Town, South Africa, to implement the tool kit there. Their two-year goal is for this protocol to become the national standard for handoffs throughout the country.

Because the Affordable Care Act requires hospitals to revamp aspects of their health care delivery, many may seek out proven methods of problem-solving, says Mark Cochran, managing director of Johns Hopkins HealthCare Solutions: “Everyone is looking for solutions that are already in use at a place like Hopkins to improve patient care or administrative practice while lowering costs.”

Cochran says Solutions’ mission is to commercialize innovative, knowledge-based products and services from JHM that target improving the health of populations. One initiative identifies successful programs, like the perioperative handoff protocol, then “packages” them so they can be easily adopted by other providers; another develops and markets Hopkins-branded health information like the POC-IT clinical decision support guides for antibiotics, HIV and diabetes to consumers and professionals. The division also manages and grows Hopkins’ partnerships with private industry.

“We want to extend good quality health care to the community while also finding ways to make the most out of our best science,” says Cochran.

Medimetrix was established in 2010 as an e-commerce platform focusing on “peer-to-peer” health care solutions. Last year, JHM signed an agreement to provide the company with its health care solutions and intellectual property. The institution receives royalties on sales of its solutions and holds equity in the firm.

Besides the perioperative handoff toolkit, Hopkins is selling its management program for caring for chronically ill older adults; a hospitalist engagement and retention survey and report; a due diligence assessment guide; and a blueprint for developing business plans that help hospital leadership determine how to allocate resources. The majority of monies derived from sales goes back to the departments that originated the solutions, with the rest used institutionally. 

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