2019 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award Recipients Announced 

MAY 13, 2020

CONTACT: Proof Strategies

2019 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award Recipients Announced
Awards recognize a lifetime leader in patient safety and two organizations that have saved thousands of lives with sepsis detection technologies

Washington, DC
– Today, The Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum (NQF) formally announced the recipients of the prestigious John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards.

The 2019 awardees include a Pennsylvania health system’s telemonitoring “bunker” that saved 227 patient lives in one year through early sepsis detection, a national health system’s early sepsis detection algorithm that signals potential sepsis six hours earlier than traditional screenings, and a physician’s pioneering and career-spanning efforts to improve medication and diagnostic safety.

The Eisenberg Awards identify significant and lasting contributions to improving patient safety and health care quality that are consistent with the aims of the National Quality Strategy: better care, healthy people and communities, and smarter spending. As leaders in health care quality and patient safety, The Joint Commission and NQF recognize and honor groundbreaking initiatives in three categories:

  • Individual Achievement – Gordon D. Schiff, MD, general internist and associate director of Brigham and Women’s Center for Patient Safety Research and Practice, quality and safety director for the Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care, and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Boston.

  • Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality at the National Level – HCA Healthcare, Nashville, Tennessee, developed Sepsis Prediction & Optimization of Therapy (SPOT), an algorithm and workflow for early sepsis detection and treatment.

  • Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality at the Local Level – WellSpan Health, York, Pennsylvania, created A Model Cell for Transformational Redesign, Aligning Digital Tools with Innovative Workflows to Create Value for early sepsis intervention.

Dr. Schiff is honored for his extraordinarily diverse and meaningful impact on patient safety throughout his 40-year career. He has authored more than 250 articles and chapters, many of which are regarded as foundational works on medication safety, health informatics safety and diagnostic error. Additionally, he was a founding convener of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine’s (SIDM) Diagnostic Error in Medicine international conference series and was an invited expert and reviewer of the National Academy of Medicine Report: Improving Diagnosis in Healthcare. For the past decade, he has led innovative quality and safety improvement and research projects at the Brigham’s Center for Patient Safety Research and Practice and the Harvard’s Center for Primary Care, and for three decades previously, he led quality and safety projects at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, serving Chicago’s vulnerable populations.

HCA Healthcare is commended for developing the world’s largest continuously operating sepsis surveillance system. Sepsis Prediction & Optimization of Therapy (SPOT) was implemented in a rolling fashion over 2018 in 164 of HCA Healthcare’s U.S. hospitals. An algorithm and workflow for early sepsis detection and treatment, SPOT uses data science to analyze sepsis development patterns across HCA Healthcare hospitals and can detect sepsis six hours earlier than traditional screenings. With the addition of SPOT, HCA saw an overall greater improvement in sepsis mortality, and with combined sepsis intervention efforts, nearly 8,000 patient lives have been saved since 2013.

WellSpan Health is lauded for its system-wide approach demonstrating an innovative combination of technology and trained medical staff to save lives and engage in early sepsis intervention: A Model Cell for Transformational Redesign. WellSpan has implemented a remote RN specialty trained telemonitoring “bunker” for early sepsis identification, which saved an estimated 227 lives in one year. The “bunker” offers a more efficient and replicable care model, providing early sepsis detection in most inpatient settings, emergency departments and waiting rooms for multiple hospitals. Early identification and screening times for possible sepsis patients improved from 67 minutes to 12 minutes.

“This year’s Eisenberg Award recipients have demonstrated both a positive impact on the patients they serve as well as fulfilling the quality community’s mission to ensure that care is measured and can be improved,” said Shantanu Agrawal, MD, MPhil, president and CEO, National Quality Forum. “The work of Dr. Schiff, HCA Healthcare, and WellSpan Health is an inspiration and a reminder that we each have a role to play in making sure care is safe for every person.”

“It is such a pleasure to give the Eisenberg Awards to this year’s recipients. Dr. Eisenberg was a pioneer in quality and safety, and these awardees are clearly following in his footsteps with their innovative research and improvement programs,” said David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president, Division of Health Care Quality Evaluation, The Joint Commission.

Given the current public health climate, Dr. Schiff’s, HCA Healthcare’s and Wellspan Health’s achievements highlight the value of innovation in the health care field to continuously improve the safety and quality of care. To bring attention to this need, The Joint Commission and NQF plan to recognize the recipients publicly later this summer, with more details to follow, in place of the NQF annual conference that was re-programmed due to COVID-19.

We are thankful for the leadership of The Eisenberg Award panel members who serve on a rolling basis to select each year’s recipients. In particular, we would like to recognize the 2019 Eisenberg Award panel chair, Gregg S. Meyer, MD, MSc of Partners HealthCare. Other esteemed panel members include Marc Bennett, HealthInsight; Carolyn Clancy, MD, Department of Veterans Affairs; Mary Grealy, Healthcare Leadership Council; Lisa Patton, PhD, IBM Watson Health; David M. Shahian, MD, Harvard Medical School; and Andrew Wiesenthal, MD, SM, Deloitte Consulting, LLP.

The patient safety awards program, launched in 2002, honors the late John M. Eisenberg, MD, MBA, former administrator of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), an impassioned advocate for health care quality improvement.

The achievements of each honoree will be featured in a special issue of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety in July 2020.

For more information on the Eisenberg Awards, please visit The Joint Commission website.


About NQF
The National Quality Forum (NQF) works with members of the healthcare community to drive measurable health improvements together. NQF is a not-for-profit, membership-based organization that gives all healthcare stakeholders a voice in advancing quality measures and improvement strategies that lead to better outcomes and greater value. Learn more at www.qualityforum.org.

About The Joint Commission
Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 22,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at www.jointcommission.org.

The Joint Commission Media Contact:
Hannah Miller Corporate Communications
(630) 792-5174