Filed Under: NICU

Clinical Conversations Deliver Improved NICU Outcomes

By Christopher Hsu, MD, FAAP

When I joined ProgenyHealth as a Medical Director, one of the aspects of the job that I found most appealing was the ability to do meaningful outreach with other neonatologists across the country. Having taken care of many medically complex babies as an attending physician in a NICU for over ten years, I believe I have a good understanding of what physicians in the community are going through and the challenges they are facing.

One of the best opportunities for engaging with these physicians comes when ProgenyHealth partners with a health plan client and begins working with their provider network. This provides a chance to connect with physicians and discuss how their practice patterns can synergize with ProgenyHealth’s best practices to improve patient outcomes. These physician-to-physician discussions form a solid foundation from which trust and working relationships are established.

An illustration of this collegial dialogue occurs regularly regarding how to wean babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS)/ Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome (NOWS) off their medication. NAS is a group of conditions caused when an infant withdraws from drug exposure in the womb – most often when a woman takes opioids during pregnancy. NOWS is the terminology used when withdrawal is due solely to opioid use. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has no explicit guidelines for medication weaning, ProgenyHealth’s experience with NAS cases has allowed us to develop both weaning best practice recommendations, as well as minimum recommended medication doses which we frequently share with the physicians responsible for delivering care to the baby.

Since joining ProgenyHealth, I have worked with neonatologists and pediatricians in a variety of different hospitals throughout the country who have been struggling with this issue. In the spirit of collegiality and partnership, I have shared our best practices with them while discussing their own practices. With mutual respect and a common goal, we have worked together to promote quality care and reduce lengths of stay for these medically fragile babies.

These sorts of dialogues are amongst the most efficient and enjoyable moments that I have had as a Medical Director at ProgenyHealth. We are in a truly unique position to offer productive conversations between clinical colleagues that can lead to evidence-based medical solutions, impactful changes, and improved outcomes for women, infants, and families.

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