Vanessa with her mom DeliaWhen Alan Cohen, MD, was Physician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, he would hear about potential ways to improve pediatric healthcare from the doctors, nurses and other staff. But putting those ideas into action was sometimes constrained by lack of time and funding.

That’s why in 2004, Cohen, with the backing of the Department of Pediatrics and support from Operating Officer Alison Marx, launched the Chair’s Initiatives, an internal grant program that funds promising improvement projects — giving those with the ideas the means to develop them. Operating on a two-year cycle, teams submit proposals, and a multidisciplinary team selects the winning projects.

“It’s been rewarding that the Chair’s Initiatives have given life to so many great ideas,” says Cohen, a Hematologist who stepped down as Chief in 2013 and now serves as Medical Adviser to CHOP President and CEO Madeline Bell. “Projects have touched every corner of the Hospital, gone into our CHOP Care Network primary care practices, and even entered our patient families’ homes.”

Over the years, Chair’s Initiatives have addressed a wide array of healthcare challenges, everything from developing a system that reduces missed appointments to drafting guidelines that improve the effective use of anticoagulant (blood thinner) therapy and creating a web portal to help families manage their child’s chronic disease.

Some Chair’s Initiatives have spawned new centers or programs that focus on a specific disease or condition, such as the Intestinal Rehabilitation Program (for children with short bowel syndrome), the Center for Bone Health, and Minds Matter: Concussion Care for Kids.

When Joseph W. St. Geme, MD, became Physician-in-chief, he continued the Chair’s Initiatives in collaboration with Kathy Shaw, MD, MSCE, Associate Chair, Quality and Safety, Department of Pediatrics, and Marx.

“This program has had a remarkable impact on patient care across our organization, fueling continuing advances that distinguish CHOP from other top children’s hospitals,” says St. Geme.

The 2014–15 round, the program’s fourth, continued prior focuses on quality and patient safety, including clinical guidelines, outcomes measurement and piloting of different care models to deliver accessible, high-quality care at lower cost and coordinate complex, accountable care across disciplines.

Chair’s Initiatives fourth round project summaries

  • Dermatologists and computer specialists developed an app that will help standardize and improve care of adolescents with acne treated by their primary care pediatricians.
  • A team of CHOP psychologists, pediatricians and other healthcare professionals created screening tools and handouts to help pediatric practices better assist victims of bullying. Youth and teens gave their input so that the materials reflected their experiences. The screening tool is now in use by many CHOP practices, and more than 60,000 patients have been screened.
  • One project studied healthcare delivery among children with a variety of inflammatory, allergic and neoplastic conditions and those who have had a transplant rejection. A team used the data to create best practice recommendations for the use of glucocorticoids, also known as steroids, which are commonly given to this patient population.
  • A team of CHOP psychologists, physicians, a nurse practitioner, and computer specialists created and tested a text message intervention to help adolescents and young adults completing cancer treatment stay healthy and adjust to life after cancer.
  • A team created guidelines and better care practices to prevent thrombosis (blood clots) and improve anticoagulant (blood-thinner) management for cardiac patients. Children with heart defects that prevent normal pumping of blood, who require surgeries and use of long-term IV lines, plus other factors, may be at higher risk for complications.