Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Present of Presence

All I want for Christmas is . . . . 

This holiday season, I hope each and everyone reading this blog has/is getting the present of presence.

Confused?  Yea, I was too. So let me start from the beginning (or at least how I got to this place where I could receive and recognize the gift of presence).

Back in March, I heard a great lecture on Mindfulness (see post from March 16th) about being in the present (versus thinking about the past or planning for the future).  It was also about that time that I learned more about MI2's (MedStar Institute for Innovation) initiatives by Dr. Ed Tori, the Director of Presence (yes, that is his title). His responsibilities include serving as the chief architect of MI2's virtual presence and leveraging it to catalyze innovation throughout the MedStar Health system. 

This weekend, as I was coming to the end of my family time for the holidays, I read his simple tweet @DrEdTori: "In 2014, will you be present?" with this link to NPR All Tech Considered Blog post.   This very short video rings true for so many of us, how our culture has shifted and how we are so often alone with our smartphones..... even when we are surround by joy of the present.

That simple tweet got me to stop, look around, put the iPad down, and enjoy the 'present' of 'presence' with my family and extended family (my wife's brother and sisters and their kids and friends). Below is a group picture from the John Hancock Observatory in Chicago the day after Christmas.

Hope every is enjoying the holiday season.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Financial Forecasts

Yesterday I presented the MHRI 5 year financial forecast to the system CFO and thought I would share some of that experience with you. 

The first time I was asked to create a 5 year financial budget, the 'investigator' in me immediately came out.  As an investigator, I like to work off of data and draw my conclusions based on facts and figures. For those of us in research, we know that it is impossible to know what grants, contracts and research studies we will be working on in 5 years - by definition, research is exploring new and unknown areas so how can I know today what we will be investigating in 5 years from now?!?

Fast forward to present day - we live in a rapidly changing world. A world that challenges us everyday.  A world that makes us recognize that in order to be the creator of our own destiny we need to understand our strengths, our opportunities, have a vision for our future and have a plan to realize that vision.  Once you acknowledge this, you feel a lot more comfortable developing a 5 year financial forecast.  You recognize that the forecast is not based on hard data about individual studies but based on the vision, experience and direction you have laid out for the organization.  Budgeting is a planning and prioritization  process and if you plan to undertake multi-year initiatives (strategic initiatives), a one year budget does not make sense.  
Yes, I have become a believer in 5 year financial plans - not because I am any more comfortable reaching beyond my 'data' but because I am a believer in the power of vision and strategic growth!

Thank you all who contributed to the process and, most importantly, to all of you who will take the journey with me to recognize our potential over the next few years to become a national leader in advancing health and creating knowledge through research!


Friday, December 13, 2013

It's our 50th Anniversary!

Believe it or not, MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) had a 50th birthday just recently and we used the end-of-year celebrations over the last few days to toast this momentous occasion.

MHRI can trace its roots back to its founding as the 'Research Foundation of Washington Hospital Center' which was incorporated in June 1963. Soon afterwards, in September 1963, the Hyman Research Building was dedicated on Hospital Center campus. The 1970's saw the creation of the IRB and separation of the research board from the hospital board with the formation of the  Medlantic Research Foundation. In the 1980's, we opened a clinical research facility on Capitol Hill and the first endowment was created. Dr. Barbara Howard became the second president of the organization in 1991, bringing significant NIH funding and leading the organization to grow from approximately 30 employees to over 300 as MedStar Health formed and we became the research arm for the entire system.

Our year-end celebrations also included some fun facts from 1963, such as:
  • General Hospital debuts on ABC
  • Coca-Cola introduces its first diet drink - Tab
  • Zip codes are initiated by the US postal service
  • Beatles release 'I want to hold your hand'
But, the highlight of the end-of-year events was the "Guess Who: Executive Edition," which featured baby pictures of the MHRI executive team from 1963. Want to' guess who?' Here they are:

Joan Bardsley (with long hair)

Mary Anne Hinkson

Neil Weissman

Karen Wade (on horse)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Celebrating Another Year of Our Honored Associates!

Today marked the last year-end event for MHRI associates. Each year, in December, the Research Institute hosts year-end events in Baltimore, at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and at University Town Center to honor associates celebrating milestone anniversaries and to celebrate the holidays with all associates. 

15 Years:
Becky Montalvo
Sue Shapiro
Karen Wade

20 Years:
Joan Bardsley
Kristin Brandenberg
Michelle Magee, MD
Lisa Turek
Donna Whitman

25 Years:
Barbara Howard, PhD

Becky Montalvo receives her 15-year award.

Dr. Michelle Magee is honored with a 20-year award.

Another 20-year honoree, Donna Whitman, receives her award.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Any idea what QSPAC stands for?  Well, on Friday I had the privilege to present the annual research report to QSPAC so I thought I would use the opportunity to let you know about some of the work happening 'behind the scene.'  
QSPAC stands for the Quality, Safety and Professional Affairs committee of the Board of Directors of MedStar Health. This committee has oversight for all quality, safety, performance and improvement initiatives across all clinical services across MedStar Health. They monitor the extent to which patient care meets certain standards of care, are rendered in a manner consistent with MedStar's value of service excellence and are delivered in compliance with all applicable regulations and accreditation requirements.
The QSPAC committee also has oversight for system initiatives in medical education and research and as such, I give an annual report on research. This year, I provided an update on our health services research (HSR) initiative, since this is a major initiative which is part of the system's strategic plan. I started by reminding them that HSR is research on the delivery of care (quality, safety, outcomes, cost effectiveness, etc). In the calendar year 2013, we have 29 open HSR studies with a total value of over $6M. I then provided a summary of the studies and highlighted 4 (see slides to the right) as examples.

Congratulations to all the investigators and the teams that support them on great work in relatively short time in building the health services research capacity at MedStar Health! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Giving Thanks

I am writing to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving and to thank you for your dedication to our collective mission of advancing health and creating knowledge through research across MedStar Health.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  Growing up, I remember my home being filled to the brim every year with family and friends.  We would sit at (what felt like) the longest table in the world with more dishes than you can count. 

But besides the food and the friends, it has been a favorite because it gives us a chance to reflect on the year and the fortunes in our life. There is no time that this becomes more important than now, as we deal with the daily challenges of change and the increasing demands of healthcare reform.

For me, I feel particularly fortunate. I have a wonderful family. I work with great people who are smart, dedicate, stimulating and collaborative. I get to be part of a number of great teams made up of investigators, clinicians and administrators. As an effective team, we do meaningful work that will literally change the lives of future patients.  And, on top of all this, I get to be part of a healthcare system that is evolving to not just survive, but to lead in the ever changing healthcare environment. 

None of this could be possible without you.  Thank you for your commitment to research at MedStar, commitment to our patients, commitment to each other and to your commitment to the future health of our community.

Best wishes for a very healthy, happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday season!   


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Visit to Feinstein

Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. Just like MHRI, they are the research home for a large healthcare system (the North Shore Long - Island Jewish health care system in the New York area). 

It was great to meet with their leadership and compare and contrast. They have many similarities to us. They serve 16 hospitals and over 400 sites. In addition to clinical research, they also have substantial translational research located on the North Shore campus (see picture to the right). Yesterday we had a stimulating conversation about  collaborative potentials for research at  large healthcare systems that pride themselves on linking academics and real-world healthcare.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Where Sports Medicine Research and Oncology Research Collide

By: guest blogger Becky Montalvo, executive director, Oncology Research

Andy Lincoln, ScD, MS, (left) director of the MedStar Sports Medicine Research Center at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, recently attended one of our Oncology Research staff meetings at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Our staff has had an interest in learning more about the other kinds of research taking place throughout MedStar, and have incorporated staff meeting guests as part of a continuing education Action Plan.   They were specifically interested to have Andy come in to discuss his niche area of sports medicine research.

While the meeting was low key, what Andy taught our staff about was informational, interesting and very much enjoyed. Like at our recent town hall meetings, it’s important for research staff to learn more about what goes on outside their research areas. When we expose our staff to other types of research, we expose to other worlds, and give them the opportunity to find ways to collaborate throughout disciplines. We open up the communication lines, and reinforce pride in MedStar Health Research Institute.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

MedStar Medical Group and MedStar PromptCare

In prior posts, I have shared that MedStar has an ambitious agenda to develop more ambulatory sites (see prior post) as we continue on the road to a distributive care delivery network, we call MedStar 2020.

Today I want you to be aware of two new sites - MedStar Medical Group and PromptCare in Adams Morgan in DC and another MedStar Medical Group opening of a primary care practice in Charlotte Hall in southern Maryland. Both of these launches will be supported with an advertising campaign, emphasizing to patients the convenient access to a highly regarded, coordinated system of services.

So that is the facts - but what really got my attention was this ad on the side of a bus!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I'd like to start by saying I greatly appreciate everyone's patience and understanding today!

This week marks the start of a new chapter for MedStar Health system with its new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, PeopleSoft. It will create streamlined data and process standards to support efficient, standardized operations and facilitate future benchmark capabilities, across all MedStar entities. Once fully implemented, it will connect the human resource functions (time-sheets) to the research grants/contracts to all financial functions (supplies, bills, etc). We know that on its first day going live that PeopleSoft is not perfect but this is not uncommon with the implementation of such a large, systemwide new platform so I appreciate everyone keeping the long term goal in mind as we work through the short term needs. 

Enter Time & Labor Online

What is most important today is to ensure that you are able to access time and labor through PeopleSoft. Use your MedStar Network ID and password to log into Be sure to fill in your time for last week (October 20-26) and this week (October 27-November 2) so that you are paid for a full two weeks on November 8. If you are not able to log in, please contact the Command Center at 301-560-7360 or (Please note that we are currently experiencing problems with adding combo codes to the timesheets. We will let you know once it has been resolved.)

Need help? Call the Command Center

A command center dedicated to helping MedStar Health Research Institute associates with issues related to PeopleSoft will be operating Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you are at UTC, you can drop into Conference Room A. Otherwise, call 301-560-7360 or email *If you have an urgent issue before or after MHRI’s command center hours, call the IMPPACT Command Center at 1-877-777-8787, Monday to Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Online Resources

PeopleSoft: use your network ID and password to log in

ePaystubs: use your social security number and password to log in

IMPPACT information:

We talked at the fall town hall meetings about "system-ness" and initiatives that are going to bring the MedStar Health entities closer together. Please also remember to be nimble and have patience--PeopleSoft is one of these initiatives that will take time, and in the long run, be an efficient and good tool for us all.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Do You Hear Me Now?

As president of the Research Institute, I learn about the new grants and contracts that allow us to conduct very interesting, innovative and meaningful research that will create knowledge and advance health. I thought you would like to hear more about these new areas of research so I have asked Katie Carlin to be a 'guest blogger' to occasionally highlight some new grants/contracts.  Below is one that we learned about this week.

 Guest Blogger Katie Carlin, Director of Research Development and Planning

Congratulations to Kathryn A. Walker, PharmD, BCPS, CPE and David Brennan, MBE who were recently awarded funding from the Verizon Foundation ( to support a project entitled: "Using the Power of Mobile Technology to Support Advanced Heart and Lung Failure Patients through Early Palliative Care Intervention." The project represents the best of innovation, research and care delivery as it will provide funding for palliative care providers to connect via tablet devices following hospital discharge.  Through the tablet technology, the palliative caregivers will test the ability to continue establishing goals of care and symptom management for patients with heart and lung failure.

The project is truly collaborative as Kathryn is a Palliative Medicine Clinical Specialist at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, Dave is director of Telehealth Initiatives for the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2) and the project will also include the MedStar Visiting Nurses Association. What is more, Kathryn and Dave were first connected at the MHRI spring health services research investigators' retreat – hopefully this is the first of many successful collaborations. Congratulations to Kathryn Walker and David Brennan!

Kathryn A. Walker, PharmD, BCPS, CPE
David Brennan, MBE