Lori Brigham, chief executive officer, Washington Regional Transplant Consortium, 5/9/06
Integrating donor hospitals in the Donation Collaborative has been one measure of success for organ procurement organizations, but Washington Regional Transplant Consortium (WRTC) didn't stop there. They also took steps to integrate their board of directors in the initiative. Lori Brigham, executive director of WRTC explains that they have always cultivated their board, yet inspired by the Collaborative they took it one step further. "We made the board more aware of our programs and how they were involved. This was the main factor in developing the strategies to take us to the next level," says Brigham.
How did they do it WRTC held retreats for their board members, took them to collaborative meetings and held mini-Collaboratives on site. They even hosted Collaborative "dinners" with board members, transplant centers and donor hospitals in attendance. "We incorporated them into the Collaborative strategy and made them partners in the process," Brigham said. "The key was bringing the resources to the table."
The board of directors evaluated WRTC and the resources needed to bring it to a higher level of performance. A direct result of their evaluation was the addition of 22 new positions. This translated to a sizable increase across all divisions, with a particular focus in hospital development and organ recovery.
"The increased staff was also to bring about the spread strategy to all of our donor hospitals. We needed to respond immediately to our donors and needed the staff in order to do that on the recovery side," Brigham said.
Applying new strategies gave WRTC their best year ever in 2005 with 151 organ donors, up from 120 in 2004.
Along with implementing the spread strategy, WRTC incorporated clinical triggers at their ICUs and EDs and also conducted "after action reviews" on both potential and actual donor cases.
"We conduct the 'after action reviews' in real-time right after the donor case to see what we've done well and what areas need improvement, so that we don't make the same mistake again. If we did something really well, we talk about how we can integrate that into the process for next time," says Brigham. "If there are things WRTC or the hospital needs to do or change, our administrative and physician champions will help us do that as part of the after action review. For example, if we didn't arrive on site in a timely manner, those are things we want to fix right away. Find out why and where the process broke down," Brigham explains.
As they cultivated partnerships with the hospitals, WRTC helped those hospitals advocate organ donation as part of their own culture and mission. "Hospitals have a responsibility to the community, to patients waiting and donor families to ensure this option is offered; it's a partnership," said Brigham.
Even the design of WRTC's new headquarters reflects the Collaborative's mission. The building, which opened in February, integrates the organ and tissue recovery staff together as a team and also includes a donor center. "We really tried to utilize technology and implemented electronic records. When DonorNet is available in 2007, we will be fully electronically integrated at that point," said Brigham.
Just some of the major improvements WRTC has seen as a result of the Donation Collaborative: