CCS Oncology donates funds to UB for innovation in patient safety

BUFFALO – CCS Oncology has donated $185,000 to the University at Buffalo to support innovations in patient safety using health information technology (HIT), more commonly known as electronic patient records.

The initiative CCS Oncology is funding is directed by Gene D. Morse, PharmD, professor of pharmacy practice in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and associate director of UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.

Morse directs an Agency for Health Research Quality (AHRQ) – designated Patient Safety Organization (PSO) at the Center of Excellence, which has been certified through the Department of Health and Human Services.

In 2005, the Department of Health and Human Services issued the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act, which authorized AHRQ to approve and federally certify PSOs.

The PSO program is a new approach that is at the heart of Morse and his team’s development of applied clinical pharmacology information that can help identify patients who may benefit from individualized medication dosing.

Morse said PSOs are new and this research is important so that an organization like CCS Oncology will realize a benefit for its patients.

“If the translational research leads to seamless, efficient approaches that can promote patient safety by preventing adverse drug interactions, CCS patients may gain the benefits of cancer treatment while reducing the possibility of unwanted drug interactions and the side effects so common to chemotherapy,” he said.

The PSO at UB is affiliated with the UB2020 Health and Wellness project titled “Bioinformatics and Medication Management Research Network” (MMRN), also directed by Morse. The MMRN seeks to use a HIT infrastructure to conduct education and research projects across New York state that lead to safe use of medications and promotion of patient safety.

Morse explained PSOs are comprised of external experts who collaborate with physicians and health care organizations to collect patient safety event reports, provide feedback and track trends while providing protections to sites for the information that is reported.

“Working with clinical practice sites, the UB PSO will establish criteria for identifying key patient populations and use existing electronic medical records that have numbers, rather than patient-named profiles,” said Morse. “These reports can then be reviewed for potential drug interactions, dosage changes and comparison to evidence-based therapeutics guidelines and best practices.”

After reviewing these records, patient safety reports called Patients Safety Medication Reviews will be created and provided to each clinical practice site using an aggregate report mechanism for subsequent use by the clinicians.

“PSOs can provide a ‘safe’ environment for health care teams to talk openly regarding events and near misses to accelerate the process of systems improvement to reduce preventable harm,” said Morse. “PSOs are not provided any funding to perform these functions and are responsible for establishing individual business models for sustainability.”

Morse notes that currently, a majority of PSOs work with the inpatient setting, creating a unique opportunity for the MMRN PSO to develop models for ambulatory care. In addition, he added, the Affordable Care Act of 2011 mandates that qualified health plans in state health information exchanges can only contract with hospitals having more than 50 beds that participate with a patient safety organization and have a patient safety evaluation system in place.

CCS Oncology provides comprehensive cancer services and treatment options for all stages and types of cancer. Patients are given care by board-certified physicians who specialize in radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hematology, breast surgery, head and neck surgery, gynecologic oncology and genetic screening at nine locations throughout Western New York.

The philosophy of CCS Oncology is to bring together different specialists who focus on oncology in order to create a complete cancer-treatment facility. This vision allows for less duplication and more transparency during treatment, as well as fosters a sense of community built on compassion.

“Dr. Morse’s program is novel and provides an important interface between UB programs and the regional community of health professionals,” said Sam Yi, CSS medical director.

“In addition, the New York State Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences is leading the way in new applications in health information technology and personalized medicine. The donation from CCS is our way of contributing to new advances that are being led by UB that will promote patient safety and best practices for our patients.”

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The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB’s more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.