Thursday, June 26, 2014

MHRI's Inaugural Wellness Newsletter

Guest Blogger: Christine Alhambra, Wellness Committee member and Marketing and Communications Coordinator

As many of you have noticed, this week we launched our first-ever MHRI Wellness Newsletter! The newsletter was brought to you by MHRI's Wellness Committee;  the committee is devoted to promoting health and wellness of associates through initiatives that inspire and encourage the development of healthy habits and overall well-being.

As all of us are members of the health industry, we want our associates to start "practicing what we preach." Promoting wellness encourages  us to live better,work better, and hopefully allows associates to come up with creative ways to work as a team towards wellness.

This newsletter will be brought to you quarterly with the start of each season.

We hope you find the newsletter useful and we'd love to hear what you think! Feel free to contact us with feedback, ideas, or your health and wellness story, at

If you missed the newsletter you can find a copy on the starport intranet site here

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My First Selfie

For the last few days I have been attending the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE), a professional organization dedicated to excellence in cardiovascular ultrasound.  This organization has more than 16,000 members and advocates for CV ultrasound quality, education and research.  I have been fortunate to be involved with ASE for many years and have 'grown up through the ranks' - it was at ASE scientific sessions that I presented my first poster, gave my first oral presentation, first served on a national committee (Local Echo Societies), first chaired a national committee (Guidelines and Standards), first was asked to be on an organization's Board of Directors and first time serving as a national organization's Board of Directors and then Treasurer.

Well, this weekend was another first for me - well........... two new firsts.  I was elected by my peers at the next President of ASE but that is nothing compared to this 'first'.......  at the end of our Board meeting where I was brought in as president, I took my first selfie with the Board.  It came out pretty good, if I do say so, for a novice!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

myMedStar Portal

This  week MedStar hospitals will begin offering a secure online patient portal called “myMedStar”. This online portal will be available to inpatients and outpatients age 18 and over. The implementation of the myMedStar portal enhances patient experience. 

With access to myMedStar, patients can view their test results, a summary of their visit and discharge instructions within two days of discharge. They can also send secure emails to their MedStar physician practice office, request prescription refills, make appointments and request referrals online.  You will be seeing more information as this new service rolls out across the system. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Town Halls, HROs, and Annie's Story

Over the last two weeks we held our Spring Town Halls across the MedStar system. We thank all of you who came out to attend these sessions.  Our goal was to be informative and interactive so you can learn more about what is happening across the sytem and how it relates to the work we do in research at MHRI. 

This Spring's Town Halls took an in-depth look at one area of the MedStar strategic plan - our journey to become a High Reliability Organization (HRO). For all of you who attended you may remember when I showed a pcture of an aircraft carrier and shared some fun facts:
  • costs $7 million a day to operate
  • more fire power than 70% of countries around the world
  • 5000 people who typically only spend 1-2 years on-board (so 15-20% of staff changes every 4 months!) 
  • Most on board are 18-25 years old
  • Despite the above, an aircraft takes off or lands every 25 seconds with a remarkably safe record - that  is, it is a great example of a HRO!
How does this relate to MedStar and MHRI? Because we are applying the same strategy to patient safety to become a HRO in healthcare. All managers are going through HRO training and our goal is to have all all 30,000 associates working in a unified direction, proactively looking for ways to improve patients safety. That brings me to the video we showed of one of our associates Annie. Annie’s story is an example of how healthcare organizations seeking high reliability embrace a just culture in all they do. This includes a system’s approach to analyzing near misses and harm events; looking to analyze events without the knee-jerk blame and shame approach.

For those who weren't able to attend, you can watch the video here:

Then we brought it back to research at MedStar, talked about health services research (research on the delivery of care) and had a presentation from one of our research team members about their research to improve patients safety.

The town hall was packed with information and we hope you found it informative how we, taking one important aspect of healthcare, are moving closer to our vision of being the trusted leader caring for people and advancing health.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

MedStar Medical Affairs Facebook Page


There is a new, accessible resource connecting MedStar associates, physicians and residents to MedStar Medical Affairs. The MedStar Medical Affairs Facebook page provides a real-time communication platform in which to share timely, engaging and relevant systemwide announcements, news and efforts related to Medical Affairs. You can use this resource as a way to interact, find information, ask questions, and connect with other associates, physicians and residents across the system. Please be sure to visit the site at and like or follow us to receive updates to your Facebook newsfeed.

Monday, June 9, 2014


On Friday, a small group from MHRI was invited to UMBC (University of Maryland Baltimore County) by their new VP of Research.  He heard about research at MedStar and wanted his faculty to learn more and also use it as an opportunity for us to learn about their research interests.

For those that have been to UMBC, it is a very large campus with almost 14,000 students and 500 faculty.  They do $80M in research, including 27 NSF CAREER awards.  Furthermore, they are listed in the top 10 'up and coming schools' in US News and World Report.

It was a great meeting.  About 20-30 of their faculty gave us brief synopses on the variety of research that touches healthcare: from high tech research in nanotechnology for drugs and diagnostics and biomedical engineering for new devices to social/behavioral research in health and addictive behaviors and their Hilltop Institute on the health of vulnerable populations.  They even have a bachelor's and master's degree in Emergency Health Services.

The group was equally impressed with the research across MedStar and our interests in expanding our research portfolio.  Overall, a very enjoyable meeting of a neighboring academic center with much potential for collaboration.  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Recognizing a Team Effort

This week we submitted several important federal grants and contracts.  It brings warmth to my heart to see a diverse group of people come together to accomplish this.  This is amplified when I get emails, like the ones below that recognize the efforts of everyone:

From Phil Farfel, AVP Grant Development:

Neil - I want to recognize Dr Fishman and her behavioral health team for their great work in putting together a large/complex SAMHSA proposal that was submitted yesterday. I also want to recognize your MHRI team that assisted in this application-- Michele Clements, Ron Migues, and Priscilla Adler. Matthew Powell, from MWHC Community Outreach, did an outstanding job in recruiting the community partners whose role is so vital to this application.  

Thank You! Phil

On the same day I got an email from Dr. Amie Hsia, Medical Director of the Stroke Center at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and of the NIH Stroke Program at MWHC referring to the fact her submission to the NIH went in ahead of the deadline:

That’s great! 
A huge thank you to everyone for this tremendous effort in pulling this all together.With appreciation,


Thanks Amie and Phil for recognizing the team effort! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Crystal Morales, RN tells us about her current research projects

At this week's MHRI Town Hall at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, one of our associates spoke about what led her to MHRI and shared her research projects. Here she is— making her blogging debut, sharing her story with all of you! 

Guest Blogger, Crystal Morales, RN 

Crystal Morales, RN (second from left) participating in
the "Color Me Rad" race with her daughters.
I started my career as a RN providing care for patients in a trauma center in the Midwest before relocating to the Maryland Metropolitan area in 2008 where I began working as the assistant nurse manager in the IMCU.  Having a strong commitment to the nursing profession and my patients, I found myself always looking for opportunities to improve the care that was being provided.  In 2011 I joined MedStar as the Patient Safety Officer at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center. 

As the Patient Safety Officer my focus was on preventing patient harm events. Focused on systems approaches to change and a just culture, I leveraged already existing administrative systems always looking to mitigate risk to the patient.
As the Patient Safety Officer I am well versed in performing and leading adverse event and patient harm investigations, conducting interviews, facilitating Root Cause Analysis, Failure Mode Effects Analysis, implementing action plans, and lastly evaluating effectiveness.

I recently joined MedStar Health Research Institute as the Program Director and am currently working on two projects, “We Want to Know” and CandOR. “We Want to Know” is an AHRQ funded project which is aimed at detecting, addressing, and responding to patient perceived breakdowns in care in real time, and engaging patients in the reporting of care breakdowns. This project grows out of prior research that has shown that 1 in 4 patients have concerns related to their care but fail to speak up fearing that voicing concerns will negatively impact their care. Our overall goal is to enhance patient centered reporting of breakdowns in care and to integrate those identified breakdowns into the system-wide response to patient harm in real-time.

CandOR (Communication and Optimal Resolution) is built out of a 2010 AHRQ patient safety and medical liability programs grant. The goal is to develop a communication and resolution program toolkit.  The toolkit will include the following components: gap analysis, incident reporting, event review, process improvement, communicating consultation services, care for the caregiver, and measurement and evaluation techniques.   This project will last 2 years, will include 8 MedStar Hospitals, 4 Dignity Health Hospitals, and 2 Christiana Care Hospitals.  At the end of project MedStar health will have 30 Master Trainer in the CandOR process that will have expertise in the following areas: Leading Gap Analysis, training and simulated experiences in patient communications consultation, expertise in how to conduct event reviews and action planning, specifically, to integrate a systems-based approach to event review, identifying the human factors elements as causal factors, and expertise in measurement and resolution techniques.