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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Data-Driven Quality Improvement Increases Organ Donation

May 2013 Quality Improvement Grantee Spotlight

  • 118,000 people in the U.S. waiting for an organ 
  • 58 organ procurement organizations working to increase the number of organs available for transplant
  • 100s of grassroots and national groups promoting organ donation

And still, 18 people die every day,waiting for an organ. 

What if, instead of working to achieve the same goal, the individuals and organizations working to change these statistics actually worked together?

Organ donation saves 75 lives every day.That was the question posed 2 years ago, when the Organ Donation and Transplantation Alliance competed for and won a HRSA grant to create a donation and transplantation community of practice and, ultimately increase the number of organs available for transplant.

About the same time, HHS released its National Quality Strategy that, like the cooperative agreement, emphasized pairing multi-stakeholder collaboration with quality measurement.

With funding and direction from the cooperative agreement and affirmation from the National Quality Strategy, the organ donation Quality Improvement Task Force was born.

Engage the Community

The Task Force brings together stakeholders from the donation and transplantation community, including

  • Government
    • HRSA and key contractors operating the organ procurement and transplantation system
  • Non-Profit Organizations
    • Organ Donation and Transplantation Alliance
    • Association of Organ Procurement Organizations
    • Donate Life America
    • Society of Critical Care Medicine
  • Community Level Care Providers and Facilitators
    • Organ Procurement Organizations 
    • Transplant Centers

Coming together as the Task Force, stakeholders work together on a national level to identify best practices for quality improvement, educational opportunities, and data resources to share across the donation and transplantation community. They hold regular conference calls and host educational opportunities.

Four times each year, the Task Force, through the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations, publishes a report that provides performance information on each of the Nation's 58 organ procurement organizations (OPOs), which work within designated service areas to increase organ donor registration and coordinate the donation process.

The reports

  • Compile relevant data from multiple sources,
  • Present information clearly and in a meaningful format,
  • Provide quality metrics comparing performance against OPOs nationwide and
  • "Push out” information to OPOs on a regular basis.

The goal is for OPOs to use the data in these quarterly reports to foster better processes, and ultimately, to save lives.

Lessons Learned

Leverage existing resources. Rather than generating and collecting new data, the quarterly report makes use of existing resources that for various reasons were not easy for end users to access or interpret. The quarterly report optimizes resources, making them transparent without “reinventing the wheel.”

Work collaboratively. Collaboration occurs at every point in the process – whether it be in convening the task force, working with partners to gather data, sharing best practices, or improving quality within an OPO. Varied perspectives, strong relationships, and good communication underlie success.

Recognize the need for change and take action. Since the initial release, the quarterly report has undergone many changes and will continue to evolve as new resources and information become available. Quality improvement is a continuous journey.

About the Alliance

The Organ Donation and Transplantation Alliance is a consortium of national organizations and Donation Service Area (DSA) Organ Procurement Organization leaders. It is a non-profit, independent organization, incorporated in 2006 for the purpose of ensuring a continued national commitment to increasing organ availability and eliminating deaths on transplant wait lists.

Organ Donation and Transplantation Alliance website