News & Events

2015 SCOAP Annual Meeting: A Decade of Improved Surgical Care

The Surgical Care and Outcomes Assessment Program (SCOAP) celebrated ten successful years building a safer, higher quality, and more cost effective surgical healthcare system at this year’s Annual Meeting on June 10th. SCOAP Medical Director Dr. Richard Thirlby kicked off the event by highlighting SCOAP’s impact in performance benchmarking, education, and quality initiatives, as well as important accomplishments in reducing variability in surgical procedures across Washington State. He highlighted the value SCOAP delivers to participating hospitals through community leadership, reliable data, and transparency.

CERTAIN Medical Director Dr. David Flum built on these points presenting recent hot topics in research. Outlining CERTAIN’s partnership with SCOAP, Dr. Flum explained how SCOAP data has been analyzed to help solve some of the most interesting questions in surgical care today. Notably, research in appendicitis has helped drop the rate of negative appendectomy in Washington State from around 12% to just over 5%--meaning thousands of unnecessary operations have been avoided. Further, Dr. Flum discussed plans for a large clinical trial of treatment of appendicitis for patients randomized to receive either antibiotics or surgery. This proposed study would assess clinical and patient-reported outcomes and lead to a better understanding of what treatments are best for which patients.

Other research highlights included new findings around the use of Entereg (a drug that helps restore bowel function after a gastrointestinal surgery) in patients undergoing colorectal surgery. Initial findings indicate that Entereg use is associated with slightly lower lengths-of-stay in hospitals and lower costs overall. CERTAIN will continue looking at this topic, and we expect to release a manuscript in the near future.

Spine surgery is another area in which Dr. Flum was excited to share findings. CERTAIN has been evaluating the outcomes of in-wound antibiotics for reducing surgical site infections. While CERTAIN research finds some evidence that these antibiotics are working, a large scale trial is needed to better understand its effects and value.

Looking beyond clinical outcomes, Dr. Flum highlighted CERTAIN’s focus on understanding patient-reported outcomes and explained how this work is returning valuable insights into the real functional outcomes and pain improvement for patients recovering from spine surgery. Meeting attendees who stopped by the CERTAIN exhibition table saw a live demonstration of CERTAIN Hub – our web-based portal for improving patient data collection and delivering programs aimed at improving health and healthcare. The Hub’s patient-facing electronic surveys capture baseline patient information prior to a procedure (like spine surgery) and provide follow-up surveys that collect patient-reported outcomes to assess healing and improvement over time. 

Dr. Tom Varghese, Jr. delivered a captivating presentation on the progress of the Strong for Surgery program, which launched at the SCOAP Annual Meeting three years ago. Dr. Varghese underscored some of the many successes the program has achieved and pointed out that much of the credit went to the engaged stakeholders in the room. He ended his presentation on an emotional note. After serving as the Medical Director of Strong for Surgery for three years, Dr. Varghese moved to the University of Utah School of Medicine this month to take on a new role as Head, Section of General Thoracic Surgery in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. He explained that he'll stay involved in Strong for Surgery supporting the public health campaign nationally and expressed his deep appreciation and admiration towards the collaborators he’s worked with along the way.

CERTAIN serves as a partner for research and development to SCOAP, and the SCOAP Annual Meeting is the perfect venue for sharing the successes and upcoming developments through the SCOAP and CERTAIN partnership. By combining comparative effectiveness research and a patient-centered approach with the power of the data provided by SCOAP's network of hospitals, CERTAIN is creating a learning healthcare system in Washington State that is actively improving the quality, effectiveness, and safety of surgical and interventional care. 


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