AAPL Members Honored On Top 25 Innovators List

By AAPL Staff
September 4, 2019

Of the 12 physicians on Modern Healthcare’s inaugural list of Top 25 Innovators, half have come through the American Association for Physician Leadership, including two current AAPL members and four others who have taken courses through AAPL.

Innovation is among the core competencies at AAPL, which prides itself on “Inspiring Change. Together.” The magazine’s Top 25 list acknowledges innovators who improved community health and quality of care, found new ways to engage consumers and lowered costs.

This marks the second time this year that physicians with AAPL ties have been well-represented on a Modern Healthcare list of high achievers. Earlier, 19 such physicians, including 15 current and former members, were featured on the magazine’s Top 50 Most Influential Clinicians.

The two current AAPL members making the list of top innovators include Rahul Sharma, MD, CPE, and Nicholas Desai, DPM, MBA.

Rahul Sharma

Rahul Sharma

Sharma, an AAPL member and CPE since 2012, is chairman & emergency medicine physician-in-chief at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine. He has implemented several programs aimed at improving emergency care, including ED Telehealth Express Care which allows patients with non-life-threatening conditions to visit virtually with an emergency medicine physician in a private room. The program has significantly reduced patients’ wait time to be seen from an average two to three hours to 35 or 40 minutes. Through the hospital’s OnDemand app and kiosks, patients can have video visits with ED physicians. Under Sharma’s leadership, the health system treated 40,000 patients across 80 services via telemedicine in 2018. The telehealth programs have achieved patient-satisfaction scores of 4.8 out of 5.

Sharma has also helped lead the development of other NYP OnDemand services, including second opinions, pre- and post-follow-up doctor’s appointments and peer-to-peer physician consults.

“Dr. Sharma is a true innovator who recognized early the potential of digital tools to transform care,” says Daniel Barchi, group senior vice president and chief information officer at NY-P. “His visionary use of telemedicine and strong leadership have advanced the delivery of emergency medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian, significantly reducing wait times and enhancing the patient experience.”

Nicholas Desai

Nicholas Desai

Desai, an AAPL member since 2013, is chief medical information officer at Houston Methodist Sugar Land. He launched the IllumiCare Smart Ribbon – a provider cost transparency program – that helps providers balance clinical efficacy with the safest, cost-effective treatments. During a 90-day pilot, clinicians benefitted from real-time, patient-specific cost and risk data for medications, labs, radiology and observation status within the clinical workflow. So successful was the program that executive leadership supported a system-wide, eight-hospital rollout of the tool in April.

“As physicians, we’ve always focused on quality of care,” says Desai. “Now, we’re also being called upon to partner to reduce overall costs of care. Ultimately, however, we can’t partner to manage costs if we don’t have the data we need to aid in cost-conscious, clinical decision-making. As system chief medical information officer, I wanted us to leverage technology to bring this information to our physicians at the point of care, where it matters most.”

The hospital realized an initial attributable cost-savings of $717,000 over a six-month period. However, since the program’s subsequent system-wide rollout, financial metrics suggest a cost-savings of $122 to $153 per admission with an extrapolated cost-savings of $12 million, and with projected savings of $18 million to $20 million annually.

Others non-members who have taken AAPL courses include:

Richard Milani, MD, FAC, FAHA, chief clinical transformation officer at Ochsner Health System: Among his innovations is pairing patients with apps and products for their condition. One such app helped 71 percent of hypertension patients get blood pressure under control within 90 days, compared with 31 percent without the app.

Bechara Choucair, MD, senior VP & chief community health officer at Kaiser Permanente: Leading Kaiser’s $200 million effort to increase access to affordable housing and connect patients with services to address social determinants of health.

Rhonda Medows, MD, FAAFL, CEO of Ayin Health Solutions, president of population health at Providence St. Joseph’s Health: Leads team that has reduced avoidable ED visits and length of stay, directing patients to lower-care sites.

Stephen Lawless, MD, MBA, senior VP & chief clinical officer at Nemours Children’s Health System: Created a virtual command center that measures and analyzes patients’ vital signs. Since monitoring began, there have been no unexpected deaths among patients with sepsis and 35 percent improvement in sepsis response time rate. 

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