Children’s Survivorship Team Wins $25,000 Award at Pitt Innovation Challenge

By Noelle Conover, Project Coordinator, SurvivorConnect, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

The Survivorship Clinic Team within the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC recently competed in the latest Pitt Innovation Challenge (PinCh).

PInCh is a competition designed to generate innovative solutions to challenging health problems in a fresh, exciting way. Each challenge poses a new health-related question. Teams of competitors submitted brief video proposals to bid for funding to move their idea forward.

The Children’s Hospital project, Caring for Cancer Survivors at the Virtual Bedside, was selected to receive a $25,000 award. The team included Jean M. Tersak, MD; Aimee Costello, DNP; Noelle Conover, MS; and Bethany Nugent, RN, all with the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology; and Kate Dempsey, program coordinator of Telemedicine at Children’s. The team proposed connecting survivors of pediatric cancer, their primary care physicians (PCPs), and the Survivorship Team at Children’s together using technology, called Vidyo, provided through the Telemedicine Center at Children’s.

The team proposed a synchronized telemedicine transition visit, consisting of reviewing the patient history by the PCP as well as any concerns expressed by the patient. The PCP will then review the physical examination and any concerns. The Survivorship team will then review this information with the survivor and PCP in the context of the prior treatment received and known risk of late effects. An individualized plan of care and recommended testing will be shared with patient and PCP.

The team plans to pilot the project with 20 PCPs in order to solidify standard operating procedure and to develop templates by which to expand this operation. Pre- and post-questionnaires will be developed for both the PCP and the survivor to permit documentation of benefit of the closed loop communication among the survivor, PCP, and the Survivorship Team.

Questionnaires will evaluate information such as fund of knowledge, satisfaction with the transition process, and effectiveness of the electronic tool. Ultimately, because this model incorporates improvement in communication and ease of use, it has significant potential to become a national model of transition for survivors of childhood cancer.

There were 60 applicants for this competition. Three winners won awards at the $100,000 level and four won at the $25,000 level.  The Survivorship Team is delighted to be chosen for this prestigious award.

For more information about the Survivorship Team, go to