Thursday, March 20, 2014

Always Learning and Improving

While attending the 3rd annual research symposium last week, something our keynote speaker Carolyn Clancy said really resonated with me. While she praised our work as a system and the quality of healthcare we provide our community, she also spoke about “room for improvement.” She mentioned the importance of improvement in science, and that we need to “keep going if we want healthcare to be what we know it needs to be.”  She coined this 'improvement science.'

It reminds me of a quote I heard: “There's always room for improvement, you know-it's the biggest room in the house.”  What I like about about this quote is that it points out that as much as we know, there is always so much more to learn that can lead to these improvements.

A fine example of learning and improving came to fruition this week. Over the last several years we have been on a journey of improving our research operations and financial infrastructure.  We do this by learning from each experience and applying what we learned into action. While we do this to serve our investigative teams and sponsors, we also do this to abide by federal regulations.

We are very excited to share that we have just completed our annual audit (by an external accounting firm) that is required for organizations receiving more than $500,000 of federal grant revenue. This year, there were no (zero) financial audit findings!  In an organization that conducts thousands (if not millions) of transactions with hundreds of sponsors and dozens of sub-contracts, this is a remarkable accomplishment - one that speaks volumes for our strong teamwork across the organization (including remarkable partnership with MedStar's central business office).  These results are from years of slow and steady improvement in our processes and represents the best audit in the history of the organization. 

While I want you to be aware of our stellar adherence to  federal regulations and accounting principles, I also want you to think about how each challenge or obstacle can turn into a learning opportunity that can ultimately lead to improved processes.  Together, we will live 'improvement science!'

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