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!