Friday, May 31, 2013

New Computers!

By: Guest Blogger Clark Bean, director, Office of Information Technology

Did you know that every year the Research Institute rolls out new computers? In fact, approximately 25% of our computers and laptops are replaced each year. With the help of Willy Concepcion and Demitrius Johnson, we are actively replacing computers in research centers at University Town Center, 650 Penn Ave, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital, Columbia Corporate Office and even our field office in Phoenix, Arizona. This fiscal year, we have deployed PCs in two phases, Fall 2012 and Spring 2013. During Phase I, we replaced 30 PCs and 15 laptops, and Phase II will see the replacement of another 44 PCs and 11 laptops.

Actually delivering and installing a PC at your desk is the easy part—before we bring it to you, each PC goes through a 4- to 6-hour imaging process (8+ hours for laptops) where all the standard administrative and clinical applications are installed. Below is a picture of the ”staging area” where we take blank PCs out of the box, then install MedStar’s “image.” Our goal is to have the remaining 11 PCs prepared and deployed in June.

The Research Institute is committed to keeping our technology up-to-date, and has refreshed 245 PCs and 47 laptops over the last three years. 

If at any time you have issues, concerns or problems with your computer, please contact the MedStar Service Desk (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) at 202-877-7731 or 410-933-4357.  For non-urgent issues, customers can also submit trouble tickets to

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Biostatistics and Bioinformatics

Several months ago, our associates asked that members from the executive team find ways to have more interaction with associates in small group settings.  Besides 'Lunch with the President' and the 'New Hire Breakfast,' we have been making an effort to visit MHRI associates in their own environments. Every month I try to attend at least 1-2 different staff meetings or do walk and round with managers.  I know others on the executive team, such as Mary Anne Hinkson, have also been going to staff meetings and incorporating the visit with training sessions.

Today I had the pleasure to attend the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics meeting (pictured below).  I learned about the studies each person is working on and how they keep many open projects simultaneously moving forward.  Did you know they get, on average, a new request each day?  Yup, about 300 requests a year!  The research spans many clinical topics from transplantation to Ob/GYN to orthopedics.  And what they offer spans from simple consultations (such as a sample size calculations) to the development of an entire database to bioinformatic use of electronic medical records for research.  I also learned how they work closely with many of our Georgetown University colleagues (including hosting a GU masters student as an intern in bioinformatics).

Thanks team, for sharing with me!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Advancing Your Career at MHRI

As I mentioned in recent posts on Notes from Neil, we recently rolled out the associate survey results for MHRI.  We learned a lot about areas you feel we have made gains and those areas we need to focus on.

One of the most important things we learned from the survey is our need to improve in the area of 'Career Development and Professional Growth'. This section deals with providing opportunities for personal growth and development, having the training you need to do your job well and obtaining a clear understanding of the career paths across MedStar Health. 

In short, you are reminding us that our associates are our greatest resource and by investing in your growth, we are investing in the growth of the organization!

Questions on the survey about career development
and comparison to same question 2 years ago (column A)
and to the rest of MedStar Health (column B)

We have started the conversation about these results and want to come up with avenues to effectively address them.  This will take input from everyone.  At several of the Town Hall meetings, I paused and asked questions as to what people would like to see. Earlier this week, I attended the monthly Scientific Center Administrators (SCA) meeting to get their input. We want to gather up ideas that span the system and others that are going to be more targeted to be applied within a specific department. As an example, someone suggested a shadowing program to learn more about other career opportunities across MHRI.  Someone else suggested access to on-line training course.

We want to hear your suggestions.  Please post a comment below or go to our suggestion box on starport  at:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

MedStar Investigator Publishes in JAMA

One of the under recognized gems at MedStar is that many of our investigators are publishing research results and editorials in high profile journals such as JAMA, New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet and many others almost every month.

Our own Cheryl Iglesia, MD, director, Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery from MWHC, published this editorial ( in JAMA
this week. She discussed the long term outcomes from prolapse surgery and implications for shared decision making. It brings great pride to pick up a journal to read and see my colleagues' work in these journals.

Congratulations Cheryl!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Health Services Research Investigators' Retreat

Health Services Research is research on the delivery of care. It spans interests from patient safety, quality, telehealth, healthcare acquired infections, cost effectiveness, outcomes and more.

Yesterday's investigators' retreat brought together about 40 people from across the system who share this interest.   During the introductions, I was impressed with the breadth and depth of experience we have at MedStar. Kelly Smith, PhD, the scientific director of safety and quality led the morning session (pictured below) that shared information on 'why now' is a great time for health service research, what is happening in the field nationally, what are the resources available at MedStar to support this effort and tips from those who have been successful. Katie Carlin shared an inspirational video by Microsoft on their vision of the future of healthcare ).

We were also fortunate to have a guest speaker (Regina Greer-Smith) from the PCORI (Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute) advisory panel. PCORI is the new federally funded institute created with the affordable care act that will fund outcomes research.

The afternoon was used for the attendees to break into smaller work groups to start formulating project ideas and grant opportunities. 

If you have an interest in health services research, we can add you to our list serve and active working groups. Just email your interest to

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Research is a team sport!

For every person who interacts with a research participant, there is a whole team of people who are also involved to make sure the study is successful. Yesterday was the last Town Hall meeting where we presented the associate engagement survey results. I was particularly proud of how our associates view the organization's efforts at teamwork. Overall, most associates (70-80%) feel that there is good teamwork at MHRI and this was a substantive improvement from the survey 2 years ago (column A), than the rest of MedStar Health (column B) and better than national healthcare norms (column C).

During yesterday's Town Hall meeting, a few people shared 'teamwork' stories. We heard how a member of the stats group wrote a program which markedly cut down the time a coordinator in the ambulatory research center had to invest in order to manually go through patient lists. Writing this program was not part of his job bit he did it willing to help out a colleague. We also heard about a big stroke network grant that is going in this week that involves people from 3 MedStar Hospitals, biostatistics department, grants and contracts office, business development and finance. 

Below is my son's team picture from Little League (yes, we are in full swing with 2-3 games each week).  

He proudly shares team stories with me almost every night. 

Using the comments section below, we would love to hear your 'team stories' at MedStar. Thank you for sharing and 'GO TEAM'!

Monday, May 13, 2013

MHRI Town Halls

Last week we kicked off our semi-annual Town Hall meetings with MHRI associates and others interested in updates from the Research Institute. Thursday was in Baltimore at Harbor Hospital and Friday we were in Washington at MWHC.

Town Halls are a great venue to provide updates and help make sure everyone stays  informed.  I enjoy town hall meetings because I get to interact with associates I might not regularly see—both before and after. I also get to answer questions in person and share an open dialogue.

After some brief system updates, most of the time was spent on sharing the results of the associate survey.  Overall, MHRI showed improvement in virtually every category as compared to the survey from 2 years ago.  I am especially proud that there was substantial improvement in communication, leadership, performance management, Total Rewards and teamwork.  What we learned from the survey is that we still need to concentrate more on professional develop and training.  Associate survey results for each department will be available in early June and I hope to use future blog posts to go deeper into the results as they relate to everyday occurances at MHRI.

We ended the Town Hall with a video of the annual symposium and a raffle. 

On Friday at MWHC, one of the associates wrote in on the meeting evaluation form that we should post the video on our website so others can see it too - what a good idea!  Thanks to Katie and Craig, it is now up at:

MHRI Town Hall at MWHC (what I see from behind the podium)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Goal Play!

Last month I shared a post about Paul Levy, a guest speaker at the MedStar Quality Retreat (MedStar Q&S Retreat post) who used to be the CEO of a large hospital in Boston. His message was compelling so I decided to read his book 'Goal Play! Leadership Lessons from the Soccer Field'.

The book was great. It is a paperback and an easy read. In short, he tells the story of how his experience as the coach of his daughter's soccer teams, from age 8 through 18, taught him valuable lessons about being a good leader in the business world.

His premise is fairly simple. He asks what is the goal of a leader?  His answer: A leader is the steward of the purpose of the institution and the job of the professional leader is to enable your colleagues to learn, individually and collectively, to fulfill the organizations' mission. That is right, a leader helps the people in his/her organization learn. The organization grows stronger from the building collective wisdom of all its associates. In this way, a teacher for a student is similar to a coach for a team which is similar to a leader for an organization.

Once you create this learning environment, everything can become an opportunity to make the organization a better place to work and more effective at reaching its goal. As an example, unintended errors are embraced as learning opportunities for personal growth for everyone involved.

I recommend the book, not just for work, but for (attitude toward) life.

I found it on Amazon at:

Thursday, May 2, 2013

MHRI Board of Directors

Did you know that MHRI has a Board of Directors?  That's right.  As a 501(c)3 (non-profit company) it has a Board of Directors and as President, I report to both the Board and up through the MedStar Health corporate executive leadership.  The Board oversees the research integrity, oversight of regulatory and compliance of research and provides strategic advice and guidance.  As an associate of MHRI, you will be very proud that we have a nationally recognized group of experts serving on the Board (full list at ) including people who have held (or currently hold) leadership positions at the FDA, Health and Human Services, American Diabetes Association, National Academy, Doris Duke Charitable Fund and the American Hospital Association.

Today we completed a two day Board retreat where we spent a lot of time examining the potential for Health Services Research (research on the delivery of care) at MedStar Health. To set the stage, we had lectures from our internal experts (Dr. David Mayer, the corporate VP of Quality and Safety, and Dr. Kelly Smith, the Scientific Director of Quality of Safety - bios at: and ). Drs. Mayer and Smith are leading the way to develop a robust patient safety program at MedStar that leverages an integrated research agenda.

We were also fortunate to have Dr. Jeffrey Brady, the Associate Director of the AHRQ (Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality) Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety.  He leads AHRQ’s Patient Safety Portfolio and serves as a member of the AHRQ Senior Leadership Team. His primary responsibilities include oversight and coordination of Agency-supported patient safety-related activities with a portfolio of $65M in this fiscal year. Attached is a picture of Dr. Brady giving his lecture on AHRQ's patient safety initiatives.

It was a stimulating conversation which will help guide our organization on its path forward to building a robust health services enterprise at MedStar.