ChristianaCare psychiatry residents Sarah Mooar, M.D., MA, and Kathryn Shirley, D.O., are still early in their medical careers. But already Mooar, a first-year resident, and Shirley, a second-year resident, have identified a gap in care between the time a patient is discharged from an inpatient psychiatric unit and the outpatient care begins.
It’s a crucial window, research shows — when small questions can quickly swirl into big problems if left unresolved. The suicide risk for these patients is 100 times higher than the rest of the population.
To simplify access and help patients stay better connected and healthy at home, Mooar and Shirley envision a tool that allows an inpatient psychiatric treatment team to communicate with discharged patients until they have connected with outpatient care. This digital health tool will utilize emerging technology, including artificial intelligence and biometric monitoring, to help provide continuity of care and recognize if a patient needs additional assistance.
Mooar and Shirley’s idea, “Transition From Inpatient Psychiatric,” earned top honors in ChristianaCare’s 2022 Innovation Challenge Finale, held Oct. 6 on the Wilmington campus. Members of the Health & Technology Innovation Center team will work with Mooar and Shirley to develop the tool.
“I was shocked when I heard our project’s name over the speakers at the finale,” Mooar said. “I’ve never taken on such a large project before, but I am excited to see what the future holds for us.”
Experience + curiosity = innovation
The Innovation Challenge is a biennial event that invites caregivers to submit ideas for new ideas, apps or technology that improve patient care, community connection and address relevant health challenges. Started in 2016, the event exemplifies what makes ChristianaCare caregivers so special – their on-the-ground experience, coupled with professional curiosity, said Catherine Burch, MS, CXA, CUA, vice president of innovation.
“We can’t forget the persistence that’s required of all this,” Burch said. “All of the inventors here have been cheered because they have the persistence and the fortitude to keep pushing their ideas forward.”
Over the summer, caregivers submitted their ideas for consideration, including an app for families of people with special needs; a platform for those living with the effects of long COVID; and a urinary catheterization kit.
Ideas were evaluated by judges who considered the potential impact of each submission, viability and how it could help ChristianaCare achieve its system aspirations: end disparities, radically simplify access, accelerate growth and transformation, enable every caregiver to thrive, keep people healthy at home and strengthen the organization’s core work and mission.
Each of the ideas submitted offers an important perspective on how we deliver patient care, said Neil Jasani, M.D., MBA, FACEP, chief people officer. “We need to support and grow these innovative ideas and be sure we are listening to our caregivers,” Jasani said.
Judges selected four finalists, who presented their ideas during 15-minute pitches at the finale. In addition to the winning idea, the other finalists were:
- A bariatric program tracking and support tool, developed by Caitlin Halbert, D.O.
- “Calming,” an in-flight-style experience for those waiting in the emergency department, developed by Himani Divatia, D.O., FACP, FAAP.
- ChristianaCare Concierge, a wayfinding platform for hospital services and amenities, developed by Margarita Rodriguez-Duffy, director of Visitor, Volunteer and Pastoral Services.
Making a match at ChristianaCare
Mooar said the opportunities available through the Innovation Center motivated her to match with ChristianaCare for her psychiatry residency. She said she started working on the idea during her residency interviews after graduating from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Before medical school, she worked on a study aimed at reducing suicide among veterans discharged from inpatient psychiatric care. The experience impressed on her many of the difficulties patients have in establishing continuity in behavioral health care.
“I was grateful that Dr. Shirley agreed to help me pitch the idea as she has more than an entire year’s worth of knowledge working as a doctor with this patient population,” Mooar said.
“It was very intimidating going up against so many wonderful ideas from attendings and other places of leadership. I could not imagine having done this alone.”
Mooar is hopeful the project can influence patient care after discharge and improve clinical outcomes, leading to a reduction in suicides. There’s also potential to scale the model for other specialties.
“It’s about providing our patients with access to quality care when and where it’s needed,” said Randy Gaboriault, MS, MBA, chief digital and information officer.
“It’s leveraging breakthrough technology, human-centered design and innovative thinking that allows us to make a meaningful impact on an individual’s health and well-being.”
From pitch to home run
This year’s winning idea joins an impressive list of patient-focused technology developed at ChristianaCare through the Innovation Challenge. Past winners include:
- Mindsora™, a gamified recognition and recall tool to improve neurocognitive impairment, developed by James Ellison, M.D., MPH, Swank Endowed Chair in Memory Care and Geriatrics.
- A home health care voice assistant that is one of the first HIPAA-eligible Alexa skills, developed by Denise Woods, PT, COS-C, of ChristianaCare HomeHealth.
- CritiTrac®, software designed to reduce variability and better coordinate care delivery, developed by Michael Benninghoff, D.O., and his Critical Care team.
ChristianaCare President and CEO Janice Nevin, M.D., MPH, congratulated these innovators and their important role in helping ChristianaCare grow and transform by finding ways to be exceptional today and even better tomorrow.
“It really is important for us that we have a bold vision for the future of health care at ChristianaCare, and I would say it’s our expectation that we would influence the industry nationwide,” she said.
ChristianaCare is nationally regarded for innovation in health care, including six consecutive designations as “Most Wired” from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives. In 2021 ChristianaCare was recognized with a Performance Excellence Award for Most Wired’s acute and ambulatory categories. That level is reserved only for organizations that are considered leaders in health care technology who “actively push the industry forward.”