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UNOS commissions independent assessment of IT systems

September 15, 2023, Richmond, VA

Effort underscores UNOS’ commitment to improvement and transparency

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) recently received the results of a comprehensive assessment it commissioned as a part of its ongoing efforts to drive improvement and emphasize transparency.

In keeping with the leadership efforts of new UNOS CEO Maureen McBride, Ph.D., and in alignment with the UNOS Action Agenda, UNOS contracted with an independent consulting firm to assess its technology and modernization initiatives against industry best practices. The assessment included the five standards as outlined in the U.S. Digital Services Playbook: modernization, reliability, security, customer experience and usability, and target state IT operating model.

The results of the in-depth assessment include a robust list of recommendations and changes that can be made to the existing UNOS IT system. Many of these improvements are already underway.

“If we aren’t constantly challenging ourselves to do better and seeking input from industry leaders to provide constructive feedback on such a critical system, then we aren’t serving the community or the patients and families who rely on us,” said Dr. McBride. “That’s why UNOS sought out an independent assessment, which was intended to provide impactful recommendations and identify gaps and opportunities to enhance the system. The results identified issues we are already working to address and serve as an affirmation of our larger priorities, while also highlighting areas that can be improved to better serve the needs of the transplant community.”

UNOS is actively working to migrate additional core components of its organ matching system to the public cloud, following best-in-class frameworks for system security. UNOS staff are also building and enhancing automation capabilities for operations and notification of incidents, which will improve response and resolution times. Finally, UNOS is improving integration with electronic health records (EHRs) while focusing on improvements driven and informed by user feedback.

“We embrace feedback of all kinds, and we will use that information as a way to drive reform and promote progress,” McBride continued. “I’m looking forward to continuing our work with HRSA, Congress, board members and community partners to take advantage of these opportunities to further improve the system for patients and the organ donation and transplant professionals who use our technology.”

The assessment was conducted as part of UNOS’ commitment to continuous improvement of its IT system, a priority included in UNOS’ Action Agenda released earlier this year. The Action Agenda outlines a variety of proposed reforms aimed at strengthening the U.S. donation and transplant system and features recommendations in several key areas, including IT, governance, patient empowerment, accountability, and transparency.

In addition to seeking this independent assessment, UNOS continues to pursue a stronger IT system as the contractor of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) and regularly tests the system’s strength against cyberattacks. Recent tests have found that UNOS’ systems comply with the highest federal cybersecurity requirements.

“Technology is the backbone of our matching process and one of the reasons more than 1 million lifesaving transplants have been made possible in the U.S.,” said Tiwan Nicholson, senior director of enterprise IT at UNOS. “Patients and donor families need to know that we are always improving our IT infrastructure to best serve their needs.”

With OPTN Board oversight, UNOS will use the findings of the independent assessment, its recommendations, and continued reliance on industry best practices to adapt resources to strengthen the organization’s technology and information security, ensuring the best-in-class systems for the OPTN during the transition phase of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)’s modernization initiative.

In accordance with the consultant’s contractual requirements, UNOS agreed not to publicly identify the organization that conducted the assessment and can only share the report with select government officials and the UNOS board. UNOS is the mission-driven, non-profit organization that serves as the nation’s organ donation and transplant system—the OPTN—under contract with and overseen by HRSA.

About UNOS

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is the mission-driven non-profit serving as the nation’s transplant system under contract with the federal government. We lead the network of transplant hospitals, organ procurement organizations, and thousands of volunteers who are dedicated to honoring the gifts of life entrusted to us and to making lifesaving transplants possible for patients in need. Working together, we leverage data and advances in science and technology to continuously strengthen the system, increase the number of organs recovered and the number of transplants performed, and ensure patients across the nation have equitable access to transplant.

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) serves as the national donation and transplant system, under contract with the federal government.

TOPIC | Improvement
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