Every year, transplant centers wait for their SRTR data release to see how they’ve improved since last year and areas they need to improve in the future. This release is how centers are evaluated and may either encourage patients to be listed at that center or encourage them to go elsewhere.
One often overlooked problem that can affect a center’s SRTR report is communication. Breakdowns in communication both internally and with external parties like nephrology and dialysis facilities can slow down the transplant process, keep patients on the waiting list longer, reduce organ acceptance rates, and hurt patient outcomes.
Here are three basic areas where efficient and streamlined communication can influence transplant outcomes and SRTR data reports.
Nothing impacts a center’s transplant outcomes more than how they care for their waitlist patients. Healthier patients equal better outcomes and an improved SRTR data report.
When a transplant offer is received, the transplant center has to be ready with the patient’s current contact information, current medical information and current health condition.
However, because patients spend a long time on the waitlist, it’s easy for this information to become outdated as their health changes.
In addition, disparate patient EMRs keep teams from having the most up-to-date information. Incorrect or outdated information creates unnecessary work for transplant centers, since they have to spend valuable time on administrative work in order to catch up.
The result of all this extra faxing, scanning, emailing, and making phone calls? Less time to provide care to their waitlist patients.
This cycle does not create better outcomes, before, during or after transplant. When a center doesn’t have all the information needed to keep the referral process moving, waitlist management often falls through the cracks, and patients can get sicker and transplant teams have no insight into their current health status.
Technology-enabled bidirectional communication (and by technology, we don’t mean fax machines) between transplant centers and dialysis clinics can get waitlist patients the care they need. Setting up a mutually agreed upon referral process, including a referral workflow, will help both dialysis, nephrology, and transplant all stay in the loop on a patient’s referral status and information. Working with a waitlist management partner, like Xyn, can also help improve the time a patient is on the waiting list.
In addition, by incorporating an information transfer tool, centers would be able to update patient information in EMRs in real-time.
As a result, each patient would receive the care they need and get an organ faster.
This critical event in the transplant process means transplant teams are receiving large amounts of information all at one time. Ideally, transplant teams will be able to leverage decision support AI technology to help them get a big picture overview and make a decision faster. Conservative approaches to organ acceptance may affect a center’s SRTR data release.
To be able to accept or reject an organ offer, transplant teams need data. In order for the surgeon to be able to make the right decision at the right time, the data from the team needs to be correct, real-time and easily accessible.
There is often too much data in disparate places, with no uniform way for the transplant teams to share data among themselves and the surgeons.
The transplant surgeon must consider multiple factors for the donor organs. They must evaluate if the organs are a good match for each recipient and for each patient’s preferences. They must also take into account all the complicated influencing factors including practice variation, systematic bias, policy and regulatory changes, and other competing transplant centers.
Last but not least, transplant surgeons have to consider how the resulting transplant outcomes will reflect on them and on their center. These metrics may result in surgeons adopting a more conservative organ acceptance practice and means certain patients may not receive an organ they need.
In some cases, based on the hope that a stronger offer will come along, the surgeon and a potential recipient decide to reject an organ offer. These high-risk decisions are part of the reason that 84% of patients die on the waiting list after previously declining at least one organ offer.
Transplant teams need a better way to share data that helps surgeons make organ offer decisions.
SRTR has many tools available on its website to help with this, but they’re not integrated into the organ offer process and are therefore not usable in real time.
However, if teams were able to leverage AI in the middle of an organ offer event, they would be able to make better predictions, they wouldn’t feel inundated with data, and they would have access to the right data to inform their decision. OmniLife is funded by National Institutes of Health for our award winning clinical research in clinical decision support and artificial intelligence. Customers of OmniLife flagship products will have the opportunity to join in our work and are compensated through direct grant funding, authorship, press releases, among other things.
Teams would be able to gather all data into one place, giving them better insight into how a particular organ could match, and helping them predict the outcome for that particular patient.
These predictive analytics would be timely, accessible and always up to date. As a result, teams and surgeons would see improved performance in organ offer decision making. More patients would be matched with the right organ. The risk of graft failure would decrease and patient outcomes would improve.
Patient care is key. Transplant recipients require unique care and a high-level of attention to ensure the correct function of the transplant itself and to address the conditions that post-transplant patients face. Because transplant centers are responsible for patient outcomes up to a year post transplant, these outcomes affect the center’s standing and SRTR report.
To provide this long-term management of post-transplant patients, transplant centers share the care among multiple care providers.
Shared care and collaborative management often brings a risk of communication breakdowns and data silos, especially when the current communication process is unidirectional.
Similar to the other phases of care, when the transplant center attempts to communicate with multiple parties through different platforms and forms of notification, they put a patient’s wellness and safety at risk. This will negatively impact the transplant center’s SRTR data report, their funding and their ability to operate.
Bidirectional communication and data sharing can improve the collaborative management needed to improve these outcomes.
For example, if transplant centers put streamlined communication and data management processes into place, they would be able to systematize and categorize their messages and notifications by each post-transplant patient.
That way, there would be less room for human error, all teams involved would have a clear understanding of the patient’s status, and each patient would get the individual care they need.
Better Transplant Outcomes
Transplant centers have a responsibility to ensure graft survival and patient survival. To achieve this, they need efficient, streamlined, and outcomes-focused communication and collaboration with outside teams.
Organ transplant communication is like the cogs in a grandfather clock. Each mechanism can make the process more, or less, efficient. The same holds true for communication between OPOs and transplant centers. Click the link below to read more.