A technological solution to this problem, which he and hospitalist Prasanth Gogineni, MD, conceived, designed, and created, then tested at the University of Michigan, is called MComm. Dr. Chopra describes it as a novel, uniform way of messaging for the entire medical team using wireless servers, PUSH technology, and iPhones. MComm was built around existing hospital workflow and patient-specific task lists, assigning priority to each message and documenting that it was delivered. The junior faculty members submitted an abstract about their innovative application, not really expecting it to get accepted. But when it won the poster competition and was selected for a plenary presentation, things got busy in a hurry. Specifically, the university hospital’s Office of Technology Transfer took a keen interest.
“We met with a number of people who had business experience in the health-care-technology space and found a CEO for the company we formed to develop MComm,” Dr. Chopra says. “I found myself getting pulled into it very quickly, with a lot of conversations about commercialization, revenue-sharing models, intellectual property, and the like.”
But running a company was not something Dr. Chopra wanted to do. Two years ago, that company, Synaptin, went one way and he went another—he stayed at Michigan as a medical researcher. He remains deeply interested in how care is delivered to hospitalized patients, but with a focus on such patient-safety questions as how to prevent negative outcomes from indwelling venous catheters.
“Winning the poster competition opened doors for me—there’s no doubt in my mind,” he says. “We demonstrated the ability to deliver a project of significance, from concept to prototype, without formal training in this area. If we didn’t have that recognition, I’m not sure I would have been ready to step into a research career as quickly. It helped me realize that medical research was what I wanted to do.”
Title: Associate program director, internal-medicine residency; assistant dean of scholarship and discovery
Institution: Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago
RIV: “Measuring Quality of Hospital Care for Vulnerable Elders: Use of ACOVE Quality Indicators” (research)
Citation: Arora VM, Fish M, Basu A, et al. Relationship between quality of care of hospitalized vulnerable elders and postdischarge mortality. J Am Geriatrics. 2010;58:1642-1648.
Title: Associate professor, department of medicine; associate faculty member, Harris School and the Department of Economics
Institution: University of Chicago
RIV: “Effects of Hospitalists on Outcomes and Costs in a Multicenter Trial of Academic Hospitalists” (research)
Dr. Meltzer was the lead author, with 11 other prominent hospitalists, of an abstract based on a multisite study of the cost and outcome implications of the hospitalist model—still a relatively new concept in 2001, when the research began. Although the study did not uncover large cost savings realized from the hospitalist model of care, as some advocates had hoped, important findings and implications for the emerging field were teased out of the data.
At the time, only a few randomly controlled, multisite studies of costs and outcomes for the hospitalist model had been performed. The study, Dr. Meltzer says, required a complicated analysis to discover that hospitalists, in fact, saved their facilities money, with their most important impact realized post-hospitalization, such as on nursing-home costs. It was important to control for spillover effect and the fact that hospitalists do a better job of teaching house staff, while a physician’s years of experience was another important variable, he says.
Dr. Meltzer was a medical researcher interested in medical specialization when the term “hospitalist” was first coined in 1996. “I thought, here was a chance to study a medical specialty in its formative stages,” he says.