5 Keys to a Successful Organ Transplant Program

Michelle Ponte, June 2, 2016

Health systems are tasked with managing increasingly complex and tightly regulated clinical programs and payer pressures, as well as strategizing new ways to compete for patients and organ donors.

This article first appeared in the June 2016 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Just a few decades ago, organ transplantation was still a relatively new frontier in medicine. In recent years, however, much has changed. Clinical advances, greater numbers of organ donors, changing reimbursement structures, sophisticated administrative models, and ever-tightening government regulations have led to improved healthcare outcomes, more individuals receiving transplants, and the introduction of new transplant procedures.

In 2015, there were 30,973 organ transplants in the United States, surpassing the 30,000 mark annually for the first time, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. What's more, there has been an increase in donors "upon cardiovascular death as opposed to brain death," and African American and Hispanic deceased donors increased over the last year, according to the OPTN.


Related: Organ Transfer Protocols Borrow from Logistics Industry


"I've seen the field of transplantation evolve from one that was absolutely new and, as a result, almost entirely unregulated, to a field that is arguably the most regulated in the field of healthcare," says Steven Colquhoun, MD, FACS, director of the Abdominal Multi-organ Transplant Center at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Increasing oversight from the United Network for Organ Sharing, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and The Joint Commission, which provide outcomes information for each transplant program in the United States, not only ensures the quality of transplant programs but is leading to greater innovation, better organ donor matches, and a lessening of racial and other disparities when it comes to determining who receives an organ.

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