New interface automates connections to aid transplant decisions

Southwest Transplant Alliance is electronically connecting with a Texas hospital to facilitate opportunities for organ and tissue donations.

The organ procurement organization has launched an electronic interface with CHRISTUS Mother Francis Hospital in Tyler, Texas, connecting its Epic electronic health record system in a way that notifies Southwest Transplant of potential organ or tissue donors.

The connection is supported with technology from software vendor Transplant Connect, with its iReferral platform supplying the connection to transmit information on potential organ or tissue donors at the hospital, along with referral information.

“This will not only allow a timely notification but also will allow the nurses to focus on the patient, rather than being tied up on the phone to relay information to Southwest Transplant,” says Mike Breen Eckhard, chief nursing informatics officer at the hospital. “This is a perfect example of how technology can work for the nurses, rather than forcing them to work with technology.”

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Because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires hospitals to refer all deaths to the local organ procurement organization, the referral process generally has been done via time-consuming phone calls by hospital nurses. With iReferral, the process occurs seamlessly and in real-time as the nurse is entering patient data into the EHR.

This enables the procurement organization to immediately decide to send members to the hospital to evaluate the patient or to inform nurses and staff that the patient, because of information shared via iReferral, is not medically suitable for donation.

Pattie Niles, CEO at Southwest Transplant Alliance, says the speed of procuring an organ or tissue is “incredibly significant” because fewer than one percent of all people who die can be organ donors.

“As an organization, we want to maximize the effectiveness of the donation process to make the biggest positive impact that we can, and the referral process is the biggest component of that,” explains Shelly Welch, chief nursing officer at CHRISTUS Mother Francis Hospital. “This update in the system allows nurses and team members to work with the families at the right time to solidify a donation. It removes the burden of time that the nurse was previously spending in making the referral and has a direct impact on the frequency and success of these life-saving transplants.”

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