s chief medical officer for the medical center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, Adler directs doctors and oversees the quality of medical services at UCSF. Ensuring that UCSF maintains the highest standards for patient safety is a key element of his work. “No patient who comes to UCSF for care should experience preventable harm,” Adler says. “It’s not that there are no risks or that we expect everyone to get 100 percent better. But it’s imperative that we strive to eliminate harm from medical errors.”
Getting to perfect patient safety will take the right technology and a culture that values communication. UCSF already has the culture. This campaign will bring us the rest.
One challenge in this work that The Campaign for UCSF Medical Center will help meet is managing and optimizing information, so that all care providers can do the right thing for a patient at the right time. “Research shows that care quality and patient safety both depend on information and communication,” says Adler. “When our patients need us most, caregivers must have fast access to facts, ideas, and medical history.”
Adler envisions a system in which doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and medical technicians communicate and share information quickly and easily. And electronic patient records, which Adler helped introduce to the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center during his tenure there, are just the beginning of information-sharing innovations that will transform patient safety.
The UCSF of the future—Mission Bay hospitals as well as facilities at Parnassus Heights and Mount Zion—will move toward continuous patient monitoring, which today’s hospitals conduct only in the intensive care unit. “UCSF patients might wear a small device that continuously monitors their vitals and alerts caregivers to emerging health problems,” says Adler.
Some of the technologies that will change the shape of health care in the Mission Bay era have not even been invented yet, Adler says, and they may not come from the health care sector. “Engineers, human factors experts, team psychologists—all have ideas to contribute,” he says.
With three new hospitals, Mission Bay will make UCSF one of the first institutions to adopt technologies that revitalize the Hippocratic Oath’s emphasis on patient safety. And the groundwork is already in place. “In recent years, UCSF has undergone a renaissance in patient safety—not just about technology but in how people are organized and do their work,” he says. “We already have a culture that values communication, believes in sharing information, and thrives on collaboration. We now need tools that enable optimal patient safety.”