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U of U Pediatricians Selected for the National Innovation Advisors Program To Improve Patient Care, Reduce Costs

Jan. 27, 2012—Two professors from the University of Utah Department of Pediatrics have been selected to join the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Innovation Advisors Program, an initiative launched in October 2011 by the CMS Innovation Center. Nancy Murphy, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, and Victoria Wilkins, M.D., M.P.H., visiting instructor of pediatrics, will work with the Innovation Advisors and CMS Innovation Center to drive improvements in patient care and reduce costs.

As innovation advisors, Murphy and Wilkins will support the Innovation Center in testing new models of care delivery, form partnerships with local organizations to drive delivery system reform, and make improvements in their own health system—The University of Utah Department of Pediatrics and its health care partner, Primary Children’s Medical Center—to deliver better care at a lower cost and ultimately improve the health of the community.

“We’re looking to these innovation advisors to be our partners—we want them to discover and generate new ideas that will work and help us bring them to every corner of the United States,” said Rick Gilfillan, M.D., CMS Innovation Center director.

While serving as innovation advisors, Murphy and Wilkins each receive a $20,000 stipend to support their activities in the program. Funding was made possible by the Affordable Care Act.

As the immediate past chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Children with Disabilities, Murphy is founder and director of the Pediatric Special Care Program at Primary Children’s Medical Center, a unique service of subspecialty care for children with complex, chronic conditions who are dependent on technology for their ongoing care, such as patients with cerebral palsy, respiratory illnesses, or feeding tubes. Her research career has focused on studying the health, function, and quality of life of children with disabilities and their families.

Murphy is working to expand the Pediatric Special Care Program clinical model to a comprehensive model that will streamline care between hospital providers and patients’ primary care providers, particularly in rural areas, to reduce redundancy and gaps in care. “I’m looking forward to connecting with others around the country to learn from their successes and barriers,” she says.

As a young researcher, Wilkins is looking forward to acquiring new skills and refining existing ones as she embarks on a new research project to improve communication between physicians and parents of pediatric patients upon discharge from the hospital. “I hope to gain new skills to apply to my research and to disseminate these proficiencies to others in the field,” she says.

According to Wilkins, current research mainly focuses on discharge communication among adult patients. With the help of a $50,000 Primary Children’s Medical Center Foundation Early Career Development Research Grant and the Innovation Advisors stipend, Wilkins has a good start for establishing a framework for successful discharge communication to decrease readmission rates and ER visits and improve medication adherence.

Murphy and Wilkins are among 73 individuals selected from 920 applicants through a competitive process. Participants include clinicians, allied health professionals, health administrators and others from 27 states and the District of Columbia. More information about the Innovation Advisors Program, including a fact sheet and a complete list of participants and their affiliated organizations, can be found at