Recently, Boston Magazine profiled 14 medical breakthroughs developed in Boston that may change healthcare delivery nationwide. The article, “Boston’s Top Docs: 14 Medical Breakthroughs,” highlights the vibrant local community of innovative scientists and physicians passionate about addressing patient needs.
Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. As the director of the Plastic Surgery Transplantation department, Dr. Pomahac believes that a surgery may not have to be life-saving to be valuable. Since 2009, Dr. Pomahac has performed Brigham and Women’s first partial face transplant, three full face transplants (notably, America’s first), and one double-hand transplant. Dr. Pomahac first saw a successful face transplant in Europe and knew the procedure could greatly improve the quality of life for patients in need. Dr. Pomahac performed a partial face transplant on John Maki, who was severely disfigured after a subway accident. In March 2011, Dr. Pomahac and his team performed the first full face transplant in the United States on Dallas Wiens, a 25-year-old burn victim. Mr. Wiens described the procedure as a “complete success,” and he has continued to regain muscular control and sensation in his face. The U.S. Department of Defense is a leading supporter of Dr. Pomahac’s work. They believe that Dr. Pomahac’s team will play a key role in serving veterans returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Dr. Gregory Grillone and Dr. Scharukh Jalisi, Boston Medical Center. Thanks to the work of these otolaryngologists, some patients with hard-to-reach head and neck tumors may only need to open their mouth in order to undergo surgical removal. Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS), developed by surgeons at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and perfected by Dr. Grillone and Dr. Jalisi, is a technique that uses tiny robotic arms, equipped with a high-definition camera to maneuver through hard-to-reach places in a patient’s larynx and throat, even behind the tonsils or tongue. The process is very precise and allows doctors to better clean out tumors and reduces patient recovery time from weeks to days.
Dr. John Wright, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Dr. John Meara, Children’s Hospital Boston. Two Harvard Business School professors created a pilot program to track efficiencies and outcomes of hospitals through “Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing,” a common methodology practiced in other industries. This methodology—or “cost-mapping”—measures the time and resources required to complete a task and identifies opportunities to cut waste from processes. In the Harvard Business School pilot program, Dr. Wright and Dr. Meara worked with their teams to map a full patient treatment from check-in during the initial visit through treatment and follow-up. The analysis that emerged from the cost-per-minute calculations allowed the providers to pinpoint inefficiencies—whether that meant expensive and unnecessary intensive-care unit (ICU) visits or ineffective treatments—and work to reduce them. When applied more broadly, these calculations could help curb rising healthcare costs.
We are proud to be headquartered in a city with such impressive medical innovation and look forward to seeing more in 2012. What promising healthcare breakthroughs are you most excited about? Share with us by commenting on our blog or by connecting with us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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