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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 to hospital leaders about the surgical handoff system she helped develop, she described the complexity of transferring patients from the operating room to their next destination. Moving a patient to the intensive care unit or post anesthesia care unit, she reminded them, can require attending physicians, interns, nurses, surgeons, anesthesiologists and technicians who are all 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.”

Soon afterward, Johns Hopkins Medicine began selling a 25-page handbook and 18-minute video package fashioned from a study of the handoff protocol used in The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s cardiac surgical intensive care unit. Since then, the approach has become the standard of care for all adult perioperative handoffs at the hospital. 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,” he points out.

Cochran says the mission of the Solutions group, a division of Johns Hopkins HealthCare, is to bring faculty “best practices” to wider audiences. To achieve that, the group has three areas of focus. One is to identify successful health care programs at Johns Hopkins, like the Perioperative Handoff Kit, then package and market them so that other health care providers can easily adopt them. Another focus is developing and marketingJohns Hopkins-branded health information for consumers and professionals, an area that includes the POC-IT clinical decision support guides for antibiotics, HIV and diabetes. The division also manages and grows Johns Hopkins’ relationships with private industry, such as an agreement with Walgreens to review the protocols used in its Take Care Clinics, and the new initiative with longtime partner Healthways to develop a commercial version of the call center-directed weight-loss program created by a research team from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

 “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. A Ph.D. trained in molecular biology, the managing director has worked in basic and applied research and in drug discovery and development, as well as in business development and venture capital. Along with managing and expanding existing business partnerships, Cochran is charged with determining which best practices at Johns Hopkins might also be marketed to the nation’s 5,800 other hospitals and medical centers.

The perioperative handoff protocol is based on research conducted by Petrovic, Hanan Aboumatar, an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, and the late Elizabeth Martinez, a former anesthesiology faculty member at Johns Hopkins. It improves patient safety by systematically guiding how providers exchange technology and information and also fulfills the Joint Commission’s handoff criteria for hospitals it accredits. The Perioperative Handoff Tool Kit is one of several intellectual property products that Johns Hopkins now offers through a new online health care marketplace at

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