Tech/Children's Partner on $5M Pediatric Center

Georgia Tech/Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Establish Center for Pediatric Outcomes and Quality

Accuracy in patient care is essential, be it accuracy in the amount of medication given to a patient or accuracy while checking for patient allergies or evaluating lab results - and in the pediatric world, the measures taken to reduce human error are equally essential, if not more paramount. To address accuracy in patient care, two leading Georgia institutions have joined in an effort to find innovative solutions to the challenges facing pediatric health care and improving outcomes overall.

Georgia Tech and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta have established the Center for Pediatric Outcomes and Quality (CPOQ), a collaborative research endeavor with a goal to apply science, engineering, technology and clinical expertise to improve healthcare for children by addressing both treatment and prevention. The center launched with the support of several major donors that provided $5 million in initial funding, as well as investments by Georgia Tech and Children's.

"Because their patients are children, pediatric hospitals are more susceptible to bad outcomes when medical errors occur," said François Sainfort, founding director of the Health Systems Institute (HSI) and William W. George Professor of Health Systems in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. "At the same time, these hospitals are 'safety net' care providers that bear a heavier burden of uncompensated care. Thus, pediatric healthcare providers are faced with the challenge of simultaneously reducing costs and improving care quality."

"This collaborative effort combines the two institutions' clinical, operational and research strengths to provide a more defined structure for initiatives targeting several areas of quality improvement," said Dr. James E. Tally, president and CEO of Children's. "Doing so will enable us to implement better methods and technologies that truly make a difference in the lives of Georgia's children and to create what can be a model nationally."

The center will be a unit within the HSI, a recently created Georgia Tech/Emory institute that partners with local, regional and national healthcare organizations to research, develop, implement, test and distribute improved technologies for healthcare that will integrate state-of-the-art information, decision support, communication and biomedical technologies.

CPOQ's portfolio of planned projects includes human-computer interaction techniques designed to optimize usability and maximize acceptance of an electronic medical record system, consequently improving patient safety and quality of care; use of predictive modeling techniques to modernize Georgia Medicaid for children to improve quality of care while reducing costs; use of simulation to improve flow through the emergency department; and use of biomedical engineering techniques to reduce cost and improve outcomes for neonatal ICU patients on lifesaving heart and lung support.

"CPOQ will apply the latest technologies and methods from biomedical engineering, computer science, industrial engineering, management and other disciplines to solve problems associated with delivering quality care to children. Through the involvement of Children's, CPOQ has access to clinical and operational resources in both the inpatient and outpatient care environments, enabling us to tackle problems that address the entire life cycle of patient care - from preventive medicine to acute care to long-term care for chronic conditions," said Paula Edwards, the newly appointed director of CPOQ.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta offers more than 30 pediatric specialties and has more than half a million patient visits annually at the three hospitals and 18 satellite locations it operates. Child magazine ranks Children's sixth among all pediatric hospitals in the nation.

Created in 2005 under the leadership of Don Giddens, dean of the College of Engineering, HSI is part of the the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University and brings together the expertise of many disciplines at Georgia Tech and Emory, including Georgia Tech's School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Georgia Tech Research Institute, the College of Computing, the College of Management, the College of Architecture, the School of Public Policy and Economic Development and Technology Ventures, as well as Emory's School of Medicine, School of Public Health, School of Nursing and Winship Cancer Institute.