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April 30, 2021/News Releases

Cleveland Clinic, Lifebanc and Transplant Connect Develop Automated Donor Referral Process

New system streamlines organ donation process, helping to save, heal more lives through donation, transplantation

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Cleveland Clinic, Lifebanc and Transplant Connect have designed and launched a fully automated donor referral system to streamline the process for hospital staff identifying and evaluating potential organ, tissue and eye donors.

The new process was launched successfully throughout the Cleveland Clinic health system in northeast Ohio in February 2021, following a successful pilot at Cleveland Clinic main campus and Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital in 2020. To implement a donor referral process that would work with each of the organization’s platforms, Cleveland Clinic collaborated with Lifebanc, the non-profit organ procurement organization (OPO) for northeast Ohio, and Transplant Connect, a medical software company specializing in donation-transplant software.

One person’s donation can save the lives of up to eight people and enhance the lives of 50 more. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services mandates that every U.S. hospital refer all deaths and imminent deaths to its designated OPO in a timely manner. When using the existing manual process, which is labor-intensive and time-consuming, hospital staff must identify each potential donor, place a call to notify the OPO and communicate relevant information to allow the donation evaluation to proceed.

“Our clinical and technical caregivers at Cleveland Clinic are continuously working to make improvements to identify candidates for organ donation,” said Brent Hicks, senior director of digital and clinical health at Cleveland Clinic. “This resulted in significant workflow and time-saving improvements but still required a lengthy phone call to the OPO. With the new process, a phone call is no longer required. The entire donor referral process is now automated and in use in all of our northeast Ohio locations.”

A Cleveland Clinic team of nurses, end-of-life care professionals, and technology experts worked together to automate the internal process while maintaining quality, privacy, and patient safety.

The project came to fruition with support from a Cleveland Clinic Caregiver Catalyst Grant that rewards with funds the innovation and initiative of Cleveland Clinic caregivers.

“We pride ourselves on providing high-quality, safe care, and keep looking for ways to innovate,” said Meredith Foxx, executive chief nursing officer at Cleveland Clinic. “Working closely with Lifebanc and Transplant Connect, we made improvements to our organ-donation process to benefit patient care, which translates into our nurses spending more time at the bedside with the patient and their family.”

Transplant Connect’s electronic medical record software, known as iTransplant, is used by Lifebanc and most other OPOs in the United States. It facilitates nearly 75% of U.S. organ transplants from deceased donation. Its automated donor referral interface, known as iReferral, is currently in nationwide rollout with many hospitals and OPOs. The iReferral interface allows for donor referrals to be sent immediately and securely from the hospital’s electronic medical records system to the OPO’s iTransplant system.

“This iReferral launch with Cleveland Clinic and Lifebanc is the largest deployment of automated donor referral technology to date,” said John Piano, founder and chief executive officer at Transplant Connect and inventor of the automated donor referral.

“We are honored to have worked through this process with Transplant Connect and Cleveland Clinic,” said Lifebanc’s Chief Executive Officer Gordon Bowen. “By streamlining the organ donation referral process, the results will lead to more donors and more organs for those waiting for a life-saving gift.”

Cleveland Clinic – now in its centennial year – is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 70,800 employees worldwide are more than 4,660 salaried physicians and researchers, and 18,500 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,500-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 19 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2020, there were 8.7 million total outpatient visits, 273,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 217,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/ClevelandClinic. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

Lifebanc is Northeast Ohio’s non-profit organ, eye and tissue recovery organization with a mission to save and heal lives. The organization serves over 4 million people and works with 80 hospitals in a 20-county area. Lifebanc facilitates the organ, eye and tissue recovery and donation processes, provides extensive care and support services to donor families, as well as coordinates community outreach and education programs to encourage registration on the Ohio Donor Registry. For more information on Lifebanc or to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor visit www.lifebanc.org

Transplant Connect is a socially-conscious medical software enterprise based in Los Angeles. Its iTransplant Donation-Transplant Ecosystem Software Platform is used to facilitate nearly 75% of all deceased donation in the U.S. as well as across a number of other countries and is relied upon every day by many thousands of medical professionals at hospitals, OPOs, transplant centers, tissue banks, eye banks, transport companies and other organizations. Integrated with the iTransplant Platform, its iReferral Hospital EMR Interface technology is in wide U.S. rollout and is disrupting and replacing the previous, inefficient and time-consuming manual donor referral process between hospitals and OPOs.

Despite the increase in organ, eye and tissue donors there remains a critical organ shortage in the United States. There are currently 118,195 people waiting for a life-saving organ transplant across the country. There are 1,655 people waiting in Northeast Ohio alone. In 2020, 360 people in Northeast Ohio either died waiting for an organ or became too sick to transplant.

The best chance those still waiting have at receiving the life-saving transplant they need is by increasing the number of people who register their wishes to be an organ, eye and tissue donor. In 2020, over 47,712 people in Northeast Ohio registered for the first time on the Ohio Donor Registry.

To learn more about what it means to be an organ, eye and tissue donor and to register online, please click here.

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