2018 Forum Summary & Next Steps

Every other year, The Alliance hosts a National Critical Issues Forum with the goal of providing an interactive, creative and innovative environment for collaboration among stakeholders of pressing needs within the donation and transplantation community. Participants are encouraged to leave in action by making commitments to the implementation of transferable successful practices and strategies.

On November 1-2, 2018, The Alliance hosted their second National Critical Issues Forum. This year’s theme was “Innovation-in-Action.” The primary goal of this dynamic and interactive event was to spur novel ideas and actions to increase organ utilization and transplantation. Innovative methodology, high impact interventions to enhance critical phases of organ utilization, such as behavioral economics, OPO & transplant center practices, transportation logistics, and organizational culture were identified.

At the forum, three idea labs were hosted. Participants attended their idea labs of choice and engaged in problem identification and ideation of solutions as each topic pertains to increasing organ donation, utilization and transplantation:

  1. Expedited and effective communication of information
  2. Utilizing data analytics and improving systems utilization to increase organ acceptance
  3. Using technology and systems to overcome barriers to transplantation and improve upon logistics

Design thinking was utilized to keep the flow of ideas and solutions fast-paced and actionable. Below are the top three solutions identified for each idea lab. Click on the Great Ideas Strategy Guide button (right, orange button) to download the comprehensive summary of all problems and solutions identified.

Top 3 Solutions Identified for Each Idea Lab

Idea Lab #1: Expedited and effective communication of information

  1. Incorporate an instant messenger tool between OPO and transplant center through DonorNet to allow for 2-way communication and accountability.
  2. Develop a platform, such as an app, that can be used to document all communications and patient information in real time. This platform could be used by all the hospital, OPO, transplant center and the donor’s family and would provide consistency in communication and sharing of information.
  3. Talk to leaders from other industries to identify the best methods for connecting disparate systems.

Idea Lab #2: Utilizing data analytics and improving systems utilization to increase organ acceptance

  1. Allow OPOs to know which centers will take ‘like’ organs based on decision history – skip those centers that never take those organs.
  2. Build decision support tools into DonorNet – center specific parameters, time to next organ offer, predicted survival.
  3. Batch organ offers at regular time intervals with emergency offer capability – permits better staffing predictably.

Idea Lab #3: Using technology and systems to overcome barriers to transplantation and improve upon logistics

  1. Standardize organ recovery techniques and practices and encourage all surgeons (abdominal and thoracic organs) to procure organs locally to send to accepting transplant centers.
  2. Develop an adaptable DonorNet allocation system that promotes high organ utilization rates by prioritizing transplant programs whose acceptance practices are consistent with their listing practice. Transplant programs with a history of low utilization rates for certain types of donors will be automatically filtered out unless they narrow their acceptance criteria to a range where they will routinely accept and allow them to gradually increase criteria as long as utilization stays at acceptable levels.
  3. Offer live-streaming during organ procurement to increase transplant surgeons’ comfort level with accepting organs procured by local teams. System must be standardized to ensure it is UNet accessible, secure, portable and can be recorded for future teaching opportunities.

Call to Action:
For information on how to get involved in the discussion, contact The Alliance at
Great Ideas Strategy Guide

Great Idea Pitch Challenge

Congratulations to Darren Stewart, UNOS Principal Research Scientist (not pictured), and Rob McTier, UNOS Business Architect, for their winning pitch, “Leveraging Behavioral Science’s ‘Default Effect’ to Turbo-Charge Organ Placement, Reduce Ischemic Times and Transplant More Organs.” Contributors also included John Rosendale, Harris McGehee and Brian Shepard.

Special Thanks to Our 2018 Forum Sponsors


Imaginative Level



  • Learn more about past forums
    Learn more about past forums below.

    National Critical Issues Forum 2016: ‘Disrupting the Status Quo

    In 2016, the Organ Donation and Transplantation Alliance (The Alliance) invited key hospital system, transplant, OPO and physician/surgical leaders to convene for a 1½ day national critical issues forum. The primary goal of the forum was to identify novel collaborations and strategies to increase the number of transplants done in the United States. Expert leaders discussed the science of decision-making as it relates to organ utilization, and analyzed how existing practice patterns may limit the number of transplants performed. Examples of unconventional strategies implemented by transplant centers, organ procurement organizations, and hospitals that have been successful in expanding organ utilization were presented and discussed. The forum was very interactive and crucial conversations occurred to explore normative behaviors and to discuss how they could be disrupted.



    Commitments Made

    During this forum, commitments were made. Themes of these commitments were:

    • Application of behavioral economics
    • Allocation and expedited allocation practices
    • Acceptance practices and listing parameters
    • Organ utilization practices
    • Communication and relationship between OPO and transplant program
    • Patient communication/education practices


    Learn more from your colleagues about their actions in follow-up to their commitments by clicking on this button:

    Successful Practices & Learning Opportunities