This sampling of projects now underway at The Beckwith Institute demonstrates the need, scope, and intended impact of our initiatives.

Clinical Transformation

Using Technology, Data, and Analytics

Identifying Child Abuse through an Integrated Alert System

A “trigger system” integrated into UPMC’s electronic health record is helping doctors and nurses quickly and accurately screen for child physical abuse. The project is now being expanded through the development of a toolkit that emergency departments across the country can use to integrate a child abuse alert system into their own electronic health record.

Treating Pain Without Addiction Using Big Data and Analytics

By analyzing information on patients with low back pain stored on the UPMC data warehouse, doctors and researchers are developing an algorithm to predict responses to pain treatment and susceptibility to addiction. The goal is to provide more personalized, precise, and effective pain treatment while avoiding opioid dependence and addiction.

Mining Electronic Health Records to Identify Suicide Risk

Using data mined from UPMC electronic health records, a psychiatrist and a biomedical engineer are developing a suicide risk calculator designed to alert doctors to at-risk patients. They’re also creating a decision support tool to direct doctors to next steps or interventions to take to prevent suicide.

Using Shared Decision Making and Improved Care

Providing At-Risk Children with Accessible Health Care

Making health care more accessible for at-risk children is the main goal of this project, which brings doctors into the community to conduct pediatric checkups. The project addresses transportation and scheduling issues that low-income families face by conducting the clinic in their home communities at a Family Support Center where they routinely go for non-medical services.

Using Technology to Enhance Training of Neurosurgery Residents

Inspired by instant replay technology used in sports, a video feedback system is being used as a debriefing tool for neurosurgery residents following hands-on surgical training in the operating room. This innovative project uses instant replay, coaching highlights, event data logging, and debriefings by an experienced surgeon to enhance the surgical skills of residents.

Frontline Innovation

Improving the Patient Experience through Innovative Ideas

Honing Burn Surgery Techniques through Realistic Simulation Training

This pilot program aims to create the world’s first burn surgery simulation training program where residents can learn and perform basic burn surgical skills in a simulated setting before operating on patients. It includes use of a porcine leg model to practice burn excision techniques and a human skin model to practice skin graft harvesting and meshing.

Helping Hospice Patients Avoid Unnecessary Hospital Trips

Education, patient-tracking software, and an Emergency Response Team (ERT) are being used through this project to reduce unnecessary trips to the emergency department and hospitalization of hospice patients. Real-time alerts sent to hospice staff trigger a team response to ensure patients’ needs are met according to their wishes.

Using Infant-Sized Simulators for Crucial Training in a Cutting-Edge NICU Procedure

Reducing radiation exposure to critically ill newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is the goal of this innovative project. Instead of using multiple x-rays to insert a central line, clinicians are being trained to use bedside ultrasound to guide placement of the catheter. Novel simulators — an infant-sized mannequin and a vessel phantom with infant-sized vessels — are being created to provide realistic training.

Training Neurosurgeons Using Simulators to Practice Brain Surgery Procedures

Through this novel project, an aneurysm simulator is being developed to train the next generation of neurosurgeons. The simulator, which involves a fluid-filled balloon catheter placed in a cadaver skull, enables trainees to perform realistic craniotomies and microsurgical dissections just as they would in an actual operating room.