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.”