Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What’s the link between health disparities and patient safety?

Guest Blogger: Deliya Wesley, PhD, MPH, Program Manager, Health Services Research MedStar Health Research Institute

As the largest healthcare provider in the DC Metropolitan area, the MedStar system provides care to an incredibly diverse patient population, including some of the most underserved and underrepresented groups.  Across the country, we know that certain groups continue to experience differences in the type of care they receive, that some are less likely to receive routine medical procedures, and that others experience worse health outcomes overall.  These differences (also termed health disparities) are important to acknowledge in an effort to address and eliminate them. 

Why do these health disparities matter to us at MedStar as researchers and as providers?  Because we know that certain differences (including social inequities and differences in cultural attitudes) can impact patient safety.  Putting Patient First means truly understanding what the patient’s reality is, and understanding that the patient’s needs extend far beyond addressing the ailment that brought them to seek care in the first place.  It means understanding where the patient came from, how they think, how they view the world, and most importantly how they want to be related to when in our care.  In doing so, we take important steps towards providing care that is relevant to the patient regardless of factors such as their age, race, ethnicity, social status, literacy levels or the language they are most comfortable speaking.  This approach can improve how we relate and communicate with patients and their families, and help to improve the safety and the quality of care they receive.

At MedStar Health Research Institute, we continue to put patients first by striving to be inclusive and representative of our patient population in our research studies.  We have to recognize the differences in every patient that comes to us, whether they are on a research study, or seeking routine care.   Understanding these differences is a key piece in making sure they stay safe while with us, leave healthy, and remain healthy.
This past Monday’s ‘Good Catch’ covered this topic and serves as an excellent reminder for us all.  Check out this important message from MedStar Patient & Family Advisory Council for Quality and Safety member Dr. Knitasha Washington—it’s brief, and incredibly well said: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntwc5MtWmBo&feature=youtu.be

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Instant Messaging Comes to MedStar

Guest Blogger: Clark Bean, Director, Office of Information Technology, MHRI

Effective tomorrow night, August 19th, MHRI will implement Microsoft Office Communicator- an application that will allow associates to communicate and collaborate with any individual, or group of users on the MedStar network using an instant message feature. While the greater goal of this tool is to ensure timely communication in case of an emergency, it's important associates know how to use the tool effectively.

Instant Messaging can also be used to quickly communicate questions or ideas to co-workers and improve day-to-day productivity.  As we become accustomed to this tool, we encourage departments to be creative with the use of this new capability.  

Because we, as a system, are so diverse, we may find this tool opens doors to different and effective ways of communication. 

Again, because the main purpose of this feature is to effectively communicate in before, after, or during an emergency, it's important that associates have the instant messaging feature functioning at all times. 

For more information and FAQs on Microsoft Office Communicator, visit our internal website portal here: http://starport.medstar.net/msh/IS/Pages/Office-Communicator.aspx

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Finn Has Arrived

While this is the blog of 'the president of MedStar Health Research Institute', I often get comments from you that you enjoy when I share personal stories so here goes.....

This weekend, the Weissman family expanded by one -  no, don't get any crazy ideas (my wife and I are too old for that!) - to my son's delight, we got a puppy!

Finn is a 8 week old English Cream (Golden) Retriever.  Its been a blast playing with him and seeing all the goofy energy, love and enthusiasm he has.  Even sweeping the floors today was a new experience with a puppy chasing after you. A special treat was when his 14 month old step brother (same father) came over for a visit - wow, he will get big!

Here are some pictures to share the enjoyment.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Plan on a Page

Did you know that MHRI creates an operating plan each year to lay out what we need to do in order to move the organization forward?

This plan is created from several different sources - we seek input from the managers (through the management councils), we conduct an internal assessment (called enterprise risk management) and we align with the MedStar system plan.  Some of the initiatives are multi-year undertakings so there is also some carry-over from year to year.

When we create the plan, we keep our 4 pillars in mind:
1. How do we grow and support the research across the system (Research Development)
2. What is the best way to maximize associate engagement, recruitment and retention (People)
3. How do we maximize the quality of our research so it is compliant and minimizes the risk (Compliance)
4.  And finally, how can we conduct research in an efficient manner to enhance productivity and workflow (Admin and Finance).

In short, we want to do top notch research, do it right and do it effectively and efficiently and we recognize that that is only possible with the best and brightest associates.

Take a look at the attached 'Plan on a Page' which is a one-page version of our 2015-2016 operating plan.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

How Are We Doing?

Each year, MHRI conducts a 'Customer Satisfaction Survey' to find out how well we are doing supporting research across MedStar Health. While the term 'customer' is not often used in an academic environment, the concept of providing high quality service is fundamental to having an effective research institute. While we have many 'customers' (from the sponsors of research, the participants in research, and even serving each other within the research in institute), a key 'customer' is the investigator - MHRI needs to meet (and exceed) the investigators' needs so they can focus on the science. Besides giving us updated feedback, the survey is also a great source of information as we look forward to continually enhance our research services and offerings. 

I am pleased to report that this year’s results showed we exceeded our 2014 results in all categories. For example, 95% of participants 'Agree' or “Strongly agree” that MHRI personnel provide service in a professional and courteous manner, 79%  feel we consistently provide information in a timely manner, 75% that we promptly follow up on any outstanding issue, 81% that we effectively facilitate resolution of issues, and 82% communicate effectively.  Overall, the results also showed 83% of participants agree or strongly agree that MHRI provides a high-quality of customer service, compared to 71% in 2014. 

MHRI management team started to discuss and synthesize these results last week at our quarterly managers meeting and will review all the written comment.  The suggestions will then be incorporated into our FY16 operating plan so we can continue the journey from good to great!  Thanks to those that participated in the survey and gave us great feedback!

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Want to guess what that phone number is from?

A few months ago, MedStar Health launched new websites across the system to move each hospital and entity onto a unified platform that can serve the many needs of our organization. While we continue to build research content for the MHRI website (www.MedStarResearch.org) which connects to all the other MedStar hospital and corporate website (www.MedStarHealth.org) through the tab 'Our Research', we have already received a lot of positive feedback.

On of the things on all the websites, which we did not think would apply for research, is an 800 helpline.  Our general email (research@medstar.net) is very popular but we were less enthusiastic about the need for a toll free 'need assistance' phone number for research, nonetheless that was the format for these websites (see below with the added red circle to direct you to area we are discussing):
 Well, to our surprise, this number has resulted in over 200 calls in the first months since the launch so we will certainly keep it!

If you have not yet had the chance to check out the website, please do.  Since we are continuing to refine it (and the clinical trials section is not yet alive), we welcome feedback and suggestions.  Please send comments to research@medstar.net.


Monday, July 27, 2015

MedStar 2020 Performance Transformation

The world is changing quickly around us and we need to always be thinking several steps ahead if we want to stay ahead of the changes.  That is, in large part, why research is so important to the future of patient care.

Just as research helps create the future of healthcare, performance transformation will help MedStar reinvent and reposition our care delivery systems and business operations to achieve ongoing efficiency and effectiveness.  

MedStar has undertaken a large, system wide initiative to transform HOW we deliver care so that it enhances systemness, supports large scale system wide 'transformations' and builds a sustainable culture to drive excellence, adaptability and change. To start, 57 'value opportunities' (identified from190 vetted ideas) are being worked on across broad areas like care management, clinical services, admin/support services and supply chain. These efforts involved more than 150 leaders in our organization and will result in a position of strength and sustainability for MedStar.  It is exciting to see MedStar undertake these initiatives and reassuring we, as an organization, are planning for the future.