Lifesaving project lands Providence physician first "Innovation Advisor" selection from Oregon

January 06, 2012
She was the driving force for implementing an early warning system that helps save patients’ lives. Now Providence’s Shelley Schoepflin Sanders, M.D., is the only Oregonian to be named as an “Innovation Advisor” to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Dr. Sanders was selected for her submission of the pilot project at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center utilizing the Modified Early Warning System, or MEWS. The project uses a computer algorithm that runs constantly behind the scenes like a safety net, watching vital signs and paging the rapid response team and the charge nurse if a patient’s score reaches a critical threshold. Nurses then notify the attending physician and follow a standardized response and monitoring protocol.

In 2011, the team responded to more than 2,000 alerts. Preliminary data analysis shows that a patient with a high MEWS score has about twice the chance of dying during the hospitalization than the baseline rate.  

“It’s a privilege to be selected to participate,” says Dr. Sanders. “I have a great deal of gratitude for my employer for being a leader in facilitating clinical transformation and allowing us the freedom to try innovative ideas to improve patient care.”

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation was developed to advance health care reform by developing new delivery systems, test new payment models and support efforts to improve the coordination and quality of care in our country. Dr. Sanders was one of only 73 people selected from across the country for the program to participate in the first cohort. The program will allow those selected to test and refine new care models that will transform the delivery of health care. More information about the program is available at

Dr. Sanders, an internal medicine physician, practices and teaches with Providence Medical Group at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. A graduate of the University of Rochester School of Medicine, she completed her residency at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. In addition to her medical degree, she also holds a master’s degree in theological studies from Vanderbilt University.

Providence Health & Services had two clinicians chosen to be Innovation Leaders. In addition to Dr. Sanders, Kellie Hamblin, RN, from Providence Clinical Advancement Services in Renton, Wash. was named for her work with pre-surgical anemia management.