Christiana Care’s Innovation Keeps Patients Healthy

In 1965, three Wilmington hospitals were facing rapid changes in health care and a booming population. Realizing there was strength in numbers, Memorial, Delaware and Wilmington General hospitals merged to form the Wilmington Medical Center.

With the opening of Christiana Hospital in 1985 and an expanding presence in the region, Wilmington Medical Center became Christiana Care Health System.

Today, Christiana Care’s clinical care is regularly honored by such quality-ranking groups as CareChex, Hospital Compare, U.S. News & World Report and Becker’s Hospital Review.

Meanwhile, the innovative research being done at Christiana Care’s Gene Editing Institute has earned it several high-profile grants over the past year, including a $1 million National Science Foundation award to develop a gene editing curriculum in collaboration with Delaware Technical Community College.

Christiana Care’s innovative programs also have become models for other health care systems. Consider Carelink CareNow, which in 2017 earned the John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award, the nation’s preeminent recognition for quality and safety in health care.

Created in 2012, the program marries the human touch with an IT-enabled care-coordination system that integrates all available sources of a person’s health data, including admission and emergency-department visit information, physician visits, lab results, radiological reports, pharmaceutical use and claims data.

The information is then integrated into a care-coordination software that the 60-person Carelink CareNow team can access. Members include registered nurses, pharmacists, social workers, repository therapists, physicians and non-clinical team members.

The program serves more than 100,000 high-risk Medicare beneficiaries and other health plan members. Interactions primarily involve telephone calls and face-to-face visits.

Dr. Tabassum Salam
Dr. Tabassum Salam

“Our goal is to care for patients across the continuum,” says Dr. Tabassum Salam, the program’s medical director. “The majority of our patients are well, and we want to keep them well or make them healthier. We want to help the faction that is in the midst of an acute illness achieve better health.”

Some patients need help successfully transitioning from the hospital to home care, so they don’t require readmission in the future.

The platform links to the Delaware Health Information Network to access data from Christiana Care’s partner health care systems in Delaware and Maryland. “It allows us to transcend individual office ambulatory electronic records and even hospital electronic medical records to give us more of a global view,” Salam says.

By helping guide members to the right care at the right time at the right place, Carelink CareNow can help avoid the higher cost of seeking care at the wrong time and the wrong place, she notes.

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