News & Events

New CERTAIN Publication Rethinks Elective Colectomy as a Treatment for Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis is a painful condition where small pouches of the colon (diverticula) become inflamed and infected. It is one of the leading reasons for elective colon resection—the surgical removal of part or all of the large intestine (colon). But in recent years this practice has been called into question. In a new manuscript, “Rethinking elective colectomy for diverticulitis: A strategic approach to population health,” CERTAIN authors Drs. Vlad Simianu and David Flum examine the current landscape of diverticulitis treatment and offer a new perspective on the treatment approach.

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Tell CERTAIN: Would You Participate in this Research Study?

Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal recently tried a course of antibiotics rather than having an appendectomy for appendicitis. For the past 100 years, appendectomy, or surgical removal of one’s appendix, has been the primary treatment for appendicitis. Emerging scientific evidence from Europe is challenging the notion that appendectomy is better than treating patients with antibiotics alone. The idea for this came from success treating appendicitis on submarines when access to an operating room was not possible. There have now been 5 randomized trials involving over 1000 patients and the results have been favorable for antibiotics.

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Quality Improvement & Innovation in Spine Care

Over the last three years, CERTAIN has been working with the spine care community in Washington State through the CERTAIN Spine Care Forum. Over 100 diverse healthcare stakeholders have come together on ten occasions since 2011 to identify areas for improvements in spine care and share results of quality improvement initiatives.

Last month, the Spine Care Forum was held at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle. Associate Director of Spine SCOAP, Dr. Neal Shonnard, began the event by sharing recent data collected from hospitals participating in the Spine SCOAP module. These data revealed promising trends in smoking cessation, blood glucose management, and adverse event rates for patients who underwent spine surgery in 2014. 

CERTAIN Medical Director, Dr. David Flum, presented exciting early findings of patient-reported outcomes (PROs) through the CERTAIN Hub - a web-based portal for improved patient data collection and delivering programs aimed at improving health and healthcare. For more information, you can view a demo version of the CERTAIN Hub.

Dr. Flum also shared a new prediction model developed using merged data from Spine SCOAP and CERTAIN patient-reported outcomes databases. The Spine Pain Improvement Calculator is a tool designed to help facilitate discussion among physicians, patients, and their families about the likelihood of pain improvement 60 days after a spine fusion surgery. Click on the image to the left to learn more, and to download the calculator.

Strong for Surgery Medical Director, Dr. Tom Varghese, Jr., gave the final presentation updating the group on recent successes and future plans for the Strong for Surgery program, including a pilot project aimed at opioid minimization for surgical patients. More details on that project to come!

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September is PAD Awareness Month - Learn How CERTAIN is Improving Care

Did you know September is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Awareness Month? PAD is a disease that affects 7.3 million Americans. PAD most often occurs in the legs and causes plaque to build up in arteries. Over time, plaque can harden and narrow the arteries, limiting the flow of oxygen. Currently, CERTAIN is in the final stages of a comparative effectiveness research (CER) study of PAD that prospectively compares clinical and patient‐reported outcomes (PROs) of medical, surgical, and endovascular interventions for the treatment of claudication – a form of PAD that limits the ability to walk. The overall goal of the study is to better understand best strategies for treatment of patients with PAD, and through the Vascular Interventional Surgical Care and Outcomes Assessment Program (VI‐SCOAP) network, to translate findings back into quality initiatives for hospitals to improve overall care delivery. 

The PAD Study enrolled 328 patients across 15 participating partner sites at 11 Washington State hospitals. The final participant is expected to end follow-up in the fall of 2014. As the study comes to a close, CERTAIN will publish findings from the study. Additionally, CERTAIN will make available the Claudication Assessment Tool, which was developed early in the PAD study as researchers noticed a high degree of relevant data was missing or not reported by providers in the medical records. The tool was developed to help facilitate consistent reporting of important data that guide treatment decisions; improve communication between patients with claudication and their providers; and increase patient’s knowledge of modifiable risk factors.

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CERTAIN Investigators and Partners Voted Top Doctors

Five CERTAIN investigators were voted top doctors through a survey of over 1,400 doctors, nurses, and physician assistants in the Seattle area. The survey conducted by Seattle Met magazine asked respondents “If you or a loved one needed medical care, whom would you choose?” Rising to the top of over 13,000 nominations were:

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CERTAIN Approved for $945K Funding Award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute

CERTAIN has been approved for a $944,999 funding award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to study patient engagement in research prioritization activities. The study is one of 33 proposals PCORI approved for funding on July 29 to advance the field of patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) and provide patients, healthcare providers, and other clinical decision makers with information that will help them make better-informed choices.

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CERTAIN and SCOAP: High-Quality Data for Improved Healthcare

Quality was the resounding theme of the SCOAP 2014 Annual Statewide meeting on June 4th. CERTAIN serves as a partner for research and development to SCOAP, and the SCOAP Annual Meeting is a venue to share the successes achieved and upcoming developments through the SCOAP and CERTAIN partnership.

SCOAP Medical Director Dr. Ellen Farrokhi addressed an audience of healthcare stakeholders from all over Washington State. In outlining SCOAP’s tremendous accomplishments over the past nine years, she was quick to point out that quality is a long term and continuous process of improvement. Dr. Farrokhi emphasized that standardization and efficiency in care pathways should be the next focus in healthcare - ensuring healthcare providers are using the same methods in order to produce high-quality data.

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Connect with CERTAIN at the SCOAP 2014 Annual Statewide Meeting

CERTAIN is excited to be participating in the SCOAP 2014 Annual Statewide Meeting on Wednesday, June 4th. Bringing together the SCOAP community, this meeting serves as a platform to share the successes achieved by SCOAP and its partners, and to hear about new activities and developments that are underway.

CERTAIN serves as a partner for research and development to SCOAP. Join us at the statewide meeting to learn about what CERTAIN and SCOAP have accomplished together, and how we will continue to partner in the coming year. There are several ways you can engage with CERTAIN throughout the day:

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Patient Advisor Spotlight: Sarah Han

Sarah Han is a CERTAIN Patient Advisor currently working on the Mobile Post-operative Wound Evaluator (mPOWEr) project. mPOWEr is a post-discharge wound surveillance mobile health (mHealth) app that  encourages patients to engage in their wound management, allows surgical providers to monitor their patients post-discharge, and provides a reliable method of patient-provider communication. Sarah met mPOWEr Principal Investigator Dr. Heather Evans when she was volunteering in the Emergency Room at Harborview Medical Center. Sarah is a recent University of Washington graduate who is interested in pursuing a career as a physician, so she was initially interested in opportunities to volunteer on a research project to gain research experience. However, after talking with Dr. Evans about her ongoing research, Sarah became interested in offering a patient perspective to mPOWEr, due to her previous experience with a surgical site infection after her own surgery two years ago.Sarah began collaborating with the mPOWEr team in the Spring of 2013 and has since been involved with design of the mPOWEr application and writing additional funding applications. 

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CERTAIN Seeking Project Manager

CERTAIN has an outstanding opportunity for a full-time Project Manager. The purpose of this position is to provide high-level, research project management for the CERTAIN Strong for Surgery (S4S) program. The Project Manager will oversee day-to-day execution of multiple large dissemination and implementation research projects. The focus of dissemination and implementation research is to close the gap between what we know can maximize the quality of health care and what is currently being delivered in practice and community settings. More present than ever within the research community is the belief that to optimize public health we must not only understand how to create the best interventions, but how to best ensure that they are effectively delivered within clinical and community practice.



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CERTAIN in the News
  • CERTAIN Medical Director Dr. David Flum on The Conversation with Ross Reynolds 4/11/12: listen here.