Johns Hopkins Expands Gyn/Ob Research, Complex Care with Regional Collaborations

Jena Miller and Ahmet Baschat demonstrate a fetoscope in an OR setting. Both are wearing surgical gowns, caps, masks and gloves and are looking at a monitor screen.

A collaboration between Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Allegheny Health Network includes several women’s health specialties, such as fetal therapy. Pictured: Ahmet Baschat and Jena Miller demonstrate a fetoscope, which is used in fetal laser surgery.

Johns Hopkins gynecology and obstetrics department continues to establish new clinical and research collaborations with health systems in Pennsylvania and New York.

Collaborations have long been a cornerstone of modern medicine, improving research, training and patient care. For the past two years, says Andrew Satin, director of the Johns Hopkins Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, he and his colleagues have watched such advantages build through their department’s growing connection with Allegheny Health Network (AHN), a 13-hospital academic medical system with facilities in Western Pennsylvania and Western New York. Now, even more physicians, trainees and patients will benefit from Johns Hopkins’ recently launched collaboration with WellSpan Health, a large, integrated health system headquartered in York, Pennsylvania.

Johns Hopkins Medicine’s relationship with AHN started in 2013 when the network worked with the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center on an array of initiatives to support cancer care and research across various disciplines. Since then, this relationship has expanded to include a variety of subspecialties in women’s health, including maternal-fetal medicine, fetal therapy, gynecologic oncology, fertility services and urogynecology. 

Physician-scientists in these areas at Johns Hopkins Medicine and AHN have established a collaborative research network, says Satin, successfully launching five funded research projects. These subspecialists have also jointly hosted multiple safety and quality education sessions, research symposiums and leadership conferences. Simulation courses are in the works, adds Satin.

One of the most fruitful areas of the collaboration is joint review and care for complex cases, particularly in fetal therapy — an area for which Johns Hopkins offers rare expertise, says Ahmet Baschat, who directs Johns Hopkins’ Center for Fetal Therapy. Each year, Baschat and other physicians at the center provide such care, including consults and procedures for open and fetoscopic spina bifida repair, treating severe diaphragmatic hernias, and laser surgeries for twin-twin transfusion syndrome. 

Ahmet Baschat, in a formal portrait, wearing a white lab coat, white button down shirt and red tie.

“This collaborative accelerates more innovative patient care.” —Ahmet Baschat

Johns Hopkins and AHN currently have a collaborative grant for a research study on a new protocol for improving outcomes for pregnancies complicated by fetal growth restriction, Baschat says. If successful, patients in the collaborative network will be able to use the protocol right away, since the Johns Hopkins and AHN sites will already have experience delivering it.

“This collaborative accelerates more innovative patient care,” Baschat says.

The new agreement with WellSpan Health currently focuses solely on fertility medicine, says Satin — a clinical area with few subspecialists where WellSpan is based. While patients continue to receive some care locally, such as monitoring, ultrasounds and medication, a growing number go to Johns Hopkins for procedures, such as egg retrievals and embryo transfers.

Collaborations such as these are providing unprecedented benefits for patients and providers, as well as the field of medicine, says Marcia Klein-Patel, chair of the AHN Women’s Institute.

“To date, our exciting collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics has further advanced women’s care for our patients and best positioned our clinical leadership to innovate for and research groundbreaking medicine,” Klein-Patel says. “As we build upon this working relationship, we look forward to the tremendous value this model will continue to offer our caregivers, patients and their loved ones.”

The Johns Hopkins Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics continues to look for more collaborative opportunities to accelerate clinical care and groundbreaking research to pave the way for more advances in patient care.

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