National Health Care Leaders Share Ideas for Quality, Delivery Improvement at Fifth Allegheny Health Network Innovation Forum

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Highlands Hospital Autism Program Awarded $30,000 Grant from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield

"Forum attendees engage in accelerating innovation from concept stage to measurable improvements at their own organizations," Alan Russell, Ph.D, Chief Innovation Officer, Allegheny Health Network

How can health care organizations empower patients to harness their unique transformative power? How can they encourage the development of innovative ideas within their own programs? How can they weave technology into all that they do, easing the path for patients and caregivers alike?

These are just a few of the questions explored at the fifth Allegheny Health Network Innovation Forum, a series of events focused on transforming health care through innovation based on science and technology. The fifth Forum took place Oct. 22-23 at Nemacolin Woodlands in Farmington, Pa.

“By participating in the elevator pitch, either by competing or by voting for the best idea, the Forum attendees engage in accelerating innovation from concept stage to measurable improvements at their own organizations. We are using the Forum to enhance patient care and to foster collaboration across hospitals in Western Pennsylvania” , said Alan Russell, PhD, Chief Innovation Officer, Allegheny Health Network.

Forum highlights include the Elevator Pitch competition, in which local organizations have five minutes to present a transformative new idea in health care. Highlands Hospital Regional Center for Autism Transportation Program submitted the winning proposal and will receive a $30,000 grant from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield; two other proposals coming from the Punxsutawney Area Hospital (English /Amish Birthing Center) and Meadville Medical Center (Care Coordination strategies for children with chronic conditions) were also recognized.

Highlands Hospital Regional Center for Autism, founded in 2010, is the nation’s first licensed affiliate site of the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Center for Autism. Highlands will use the grant from Highmark to purchase a van, which will allow the center to develop innovative ways of using transportation to teach social skills to children with autism.

By using the van to take children with autism and skilled staff aides to local businesses, the mall and even doctors’ appointments, the children get repetitive practice of the community-based skills that they need to develop quality social interactions. The transportation program will help give the students every opportunity to excel within their community and in family life. Highlands will use evidence-based measures to measure the acquisition of these skills.

The AHN Innovation Forum featured speakers are a prestigious group who are driving the national conversation on health care and leading innovation that helps and empowers patients and caregivers. Among this year’s speakers were:

  •      Maureen Bisognano, President and CEO, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Instructor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, spoke about placing power in patients’ hands and harnessing the unique transformative power of patients, families and communities
  •     Alexandra Drane, President and CEO, Eliza Corporation, presented on the strategic use of technology to engage people in their health, the “unmentionables” and why many of our therapies may not work.
  •     U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-18) Honorable John Zottola, Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, Anthony Mannarino, PhD, Director of the Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents at Allegheny General Hospital, led a panel that explored new ways of helping mental health patients and their families.
  •         Roni Zeiger, MD, former Chief Health Strategist at Google and CEO, Smart Patients, talked about patients participating in networks of microexperts and the new collaboration between SmartPatients and AHN.
  •     Sorrel King, author, “Josie’s Story.” After her young daughter, Josie, died as a result of medical errors, Ms. King began working with Johns Hopkins on reducing medical errors and started the Josie King Foundation.
  •     Eric Coleman, MD, MPH, MacArthur Fellow and Professor of Medicine and Head of the Division of Health Care Policy and Research at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, spoke on care transitions and patient empowerment.
  •     Daniel Pellegrini, MD, MMM, Chief Of Quality, Inpatient Services, Kaiser Permanente, discussed the Kaiser Permanente’s structure and how technology is integrated in the organization while driving care.

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Dan Laurent