The Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum (NQF) announce the recipients of the John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards. The 2019 awardees include a Pennsylvania health system’s telemonitoring “bunker” that saved 227 patient lives in one year through early sepsis detection, a national health system’s early sepsis detection algorithm that signals potential sepsis six hours earlier than traditional screenings, and a physician’s pioneering and career-spanning efforts to improve medication and diagnostic safety.

The Eisenberg Awards identify significant and lasting contributions to improving patient safety and healthcare quality that are consistent with the aims of the National Quality Strategy: better care, healthy people and communities, and smarter spending. As leaders in healthcare quality and patient safety, The Joint Commission and NQF recognize and honor groundbreaking initiatives in three categories:

  • Individual Achievement: Gordon D. Schiff, MD, general internist and associate director of Brigham and Women’s Center for Patient Safety Research and Practice, quality and safety director for the Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care, and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Boston.
  • Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality at the National Level: HCA Healthcare, Nashville, Tenn., developed Sepsis Prediction & Optimization of Therapy (SPOT), an algorithm and workflow for early sepsis detection and treatment.
  • Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality at the Local Level: WellSpan Health, York, Pa., created A Model Cell for Transformational Redesign, Aligning Digital Tools with Innovative Workflows to Create Value for early sepsis intervention.

Schiff, for one, is honored for his impact on patient safety throughout his 40-year career. He has authored more than 250 articles and chapters, many of which are regarded as foundational works on medication safety, health informatics safety, and diagnostic error. Additionally, he was a founding convener of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine’s Diagnostic Error in Medicine international conference series and was an invited expert and reviewer of the National Academy of Medicine Report: Improving Diagnosis in Healthcare. 

For the past decade, he has led innovative quality and safety improvement and research projects at the Brigham’s Center for Patient Safety Research and Practice and the Harvard’s Center for Primary Care, and for three decades previously, he led quality and safety projects at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, serving Chicago’s vulnerable populations.

Moreover, HCA Healthcare is commended for developing the world’s largest continuously operating sepsis surveillance system. Sepsis Prediction & Optimization of Therapy (SPOT) was implemented in a rolling fashion over 2018 in 164 of HCA Healthcare’s U.S. hospitals. An algorithm and workflow for early sepsis detection and treatment, SPOT uses data science to analyze sepsis development patterns across HCA Healthcare hospitals and can detect sepsis six hours earlier than traditional screenings. 

Finally, WellSpan Health is lauded for its system-wide approach to early sepsis intervention: A Model Cell for Transformational Redesign. Specifically, WellSpan has implemented a remote RN specialty trained telemonitoring “bunker” for early sepsis identification, which saved an estimated 227 lives in one year. The “bunker” offers a more efficient and replicable care model, providing early sepsis detection in most inpatient settings, emergency departments, and waiting rooms for multiple hospitals. 

“This year’s Eisenberg Award recipients have demonstrated both a positive impact on the patients they serve, as well as fulfilling the quality community’s mission to ensure that care is measured and can be improved,” says Shantanu Agrawal, MD, MPhil, president and CEO, National Quality Forum. “The work of Dr. Schiff, HCA Healthcare, and WellSpan Health is an inspiration and a reminder that we each have a role to play in making sure care is safe for every person.”