Caring Wisely™

"We are an incubator and catalyst for change that enables frontline clinicians to redesign healthcare systems and implement innovative care processes to improve quality and reduce costs."
- Catherine Lau, MD, Caring Wisely™ Director

What is Caring Wisely™?

Caring Wisely™ is an organized process for engaging and supporting frontline staff and clinicians in efforts to remove unnecessary costs from healthcare delivery systems and improve the quality of care delivered. The program was created and launched by the UCSF Center for Healthcare Value in November 2012.

How does Caring Wisely™ work?

Caring Wisely LogoThe Caring Wisely™ program awards $50,000 to three projects per year (for a total of $150,000). The annual award process consists of:

  1. The Project Contest: a health system-wide open call to all staff, providers, faculty and trainees to bring forward their best ideas for identifying areas that could be targeted to reduce inefficiencies and healthcare costs. This is done through applications submitted on Open Proposals, a crowdsourcing platform that engages the UCSF Health community by promoting comments and questions from colleagues.
  2. Project Optimization: 2nd Round finalists are selected and given approximately two weeks to optimize their proposals. Open Proposals is used to generate deeper dive feedback from the community. The Center for Healthcare Value (CHV) provides office hours and connection to institutional resources to help design robust cost model predictions.
  3. Project Implementation: Awardees receive implementation science coaching support from the Caring Wisely™ Core Leadership Team, opportunities to engage with UCSF Health stakeholders and executive leadership, and technical assistance (modification and extraction of EHR data). Project Leads meet weekly the first two months for intensive Implementation Science and Lean training, shifting to two (2) times a month for Work in Progress (WIP) sessions over the award year.


Success of the Caring Wisely™ program is built upon the key partnerships between Project Leads, the Core Leadership Team, the Selection Committee, the Executive Committee, and the greater UCSF Health community.

  • Core Leadership Team - consists of a Program Medical Director, Program Manager, Implementation Science Advisors, Human Centered Design Advisor, Director of Continuous Improvement, and the Chief Innovation Officer.
  • Selection Committee - consists of key UCSF Health leaders across the discipline spectrum, including unit managers, clinicians, pharmacists, data scientists, improvement managers, hospital administration, and invited subject matter experts. The Selection Committee vets all proposals and recommends winners annually.
  • Executive Committee - comprised of executive health system leaders in quality, operations, finance, and information technology The Executive Committee meets quarterly to discuss progress to date, address barriers, and approve subsequent year awardees.

Open Proposals

Powered by UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), Open Proposals is a web-based platform enabling transparent and collaborative proposal development. Caring Wisely™ has collected hundreds of ideas and dozens of full project proposals on Open Proposals since 2012.

Past Caring Wisely™ ideas and projects may be viewed in the Archived section of Open Proposals
(UCSF MyAccess login required)

Next Funding Cycle 2023 – 2024

Caring Wisely™ Timeline:
FY 23 Caring Wisely Project Contest Submission Phase will
begin in Jan 2023, more details will be forthcoming.

Caring Wisely™ Teams


Rehabilitation in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit: Implementing an Interdisciplinary Team Based Early Mobilization Program in the PICU at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital – San Francisco – Neha Seth, PT, MSBKN, PCS

Development of an Inpatient Health Advocate Program – Sujatha Sankaran, MD

Safely Reducing Unnecessary 2 a.m. Fingerstick Glucose Checks for Hospitalized Adult Patients – Armond Esmaili, MD


Clear the Mind: An Integrated Approach to Delirium Screening, Prevention, and Reduction at the Children’s Hospitals – Deb Franzon, MD
Decreasing “No Shows” in Ambulatory Clinics to Improve Access & Equity in Patient Visit Access and Reduce Lost Revenue – Mia Williams, MD, MS
Integrating Advanced Care Planning into the Pre-Surgical Workflow – Liza Wick, MD

Improving Throughput by Optimizing and Promoting Discharge Milestones
– Craig Johnson, MSN, FNP, RN-BC
Evaluating the Impact of Social Needs Screening on Reducing LOS and Case Cancellations
– Tom Chi, MD and Emily Finlayson, MD
Systematic Solutions for Reducing and Recovering Medical Supply Surplus in ORs and ICUs
– Seema Gandhi, MD


Past Awards

Outpatient Cervical Ripening for Induction of Labor – Rebecca Schwartz, MD and Robyn Lamar, MD
Pediatric IV Acetaminophen Stewardship – Kendall Gross, PharmD
Standardization and Expansion of Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment to Transitional Care Units – Anne Ritchie, MD, Jonathon Duong, MD, Maggie Jones, MD, Fanny Li, PharmD, Calvin Huynh, PharmD,
and Melissa Lee, RN
2018 – 2019
Albumin Utilization Stewardship – Ashley Thompson, PharmD
Wide Awake Local Anesthesia No Tourniquet (WALANT) Simple Hand Surgeries – Igor Immerman, MD
Transforming Back and Neck Pain – Integrated Spine Service (ISS) – Conor O’Neill, MD
Care for the Homeless - James Hardy, MD
Transforming Back and Neck Pain – Integrated Spine Service (ISS) - Conor O’Neill, MD
Safe Transitions Pathway in Neurological Surgery -  Jennifer Viner, NP
Antibiotic Stewardship - Sarah Doernberg, MD
Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) Pathway for Cesarean Delivery - Monica Harbell, MD
Perioperative Obstructive Sleep Apnea Pathway – Andrew Schober, MD and Sakura Kinjo, MD
Perioperative Surgical Home - Lee-Lynn Chen, MD
Pre-Term Sepsis Risk Calculator - Tom Newman, MD, MPH
OR Communication and Efficiency Problem Resolution - Sarah Imershein, MPH
OR Score - Reducing Operating Room Costs through a Price Transparency  - Corinna Zygourakis, MD and Kent Soo Hoo, PhD
Reducing Operating Room Turnover Times - Lindsay Hampson, MD
RADS: Reducing CT Use with APeX Decision Rules - Ellen Weber, MD
Nebs No More After 24: Improving the Use of Appropriate Respiratory Therapies - Chris Moriates, MD and Kathryn Curcione, RN, BSN, ONC, NE-BC
Reduction of RBC Transfusions - Delene Johnson, MS, MT, SBB and Molly Rankin, PA-C

For more information, please contact:
Brian Holt, MHA ([email protected]), Caring Wisely™ Program Manager
Catherine Lau, MD ([email protected]), Caring Wisely™ Director