Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Shall We Wake the President?

Last week, MedStar Health Research Institute had it quarterly Board of Directors meeting, made up of national experts in healthcare, research and academics. We spent 2 days together. First we went over MHRI updates: MedStar system updates, MHRI operational updates, research areas such as health services research updates, compliance, philanthropy, etc. We also used the expertise on the Board to re-examine our 'dashboard' that looks at a number of operational metrics.

The majority of the second day was spent examining the potential synergies between MHRI and Georgetown's research efforts.

One of the fun thing that happens when this group comes together is that you can learn about something new from the expertise on the Board.  Such was the case during lunch, when Board director Tevi Troy spoke about his new book 'Shall We Wake the President?'  Tevi Troy is a presidental historian, policy expert and accomplished administrator in the federal government.
Troy was at the heart of the George W. Bush administration’s post-9/11 disaster preparedness operations at the Department of Labor, the White House Domestic Policy Council, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

In this book, Tevi looks at disaster management from the oval office for the last two centuries. He conveys the events around everything from terrorist attacks to cyber-security to civil unrest.  It really changes one's perspective!

There is a nice review of the book in yesterday's National Review.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Reaching Out to Our Community

It’s great when we receive new awards that directly impact our community.

I just saw a new position come across my desk for a program coordinator for research at MedStar Family Choice. The position is fully funded by a Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) grant for “Promoting Medicaid Delivery Models for the National Diabetes Prevention Program through Managed Care Organizations”.  

The grant from the Maryland DHMH shows support for our work in our communities and this program is coming directly to members of those communities, including those seen in ambulatory care facilities throughout the region. MedStar’s focus on population health supports our ongoing MedStar 2020 vision and our mission of advancing health.  Collaborators on this grant include the MedStar Diabetes Institute and the MedStar Community Health team.

I look forward to future work with our community and best of luck to the growing team!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Optimizing Recruitment through Engagement and Innovation

Guest post by Mahaya Clark, Clinical Research Coordinator, MCCRC
I attended the annual conference, “Research Participant Recruitment & Retention: What is Working Across the Nation?” on September 9th at the John Hopkins School of Nursing. The conference bought together nationwide and local research professionals, various stakeholders and study team members focusing on best practices and innovative strategies for research participant recruitment. Associates from MedStar Health Research Institute attended along with our colleagues from the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translation Science (GHUCCTS). 
We heard from notables such as Ken Getz, founder and chairman of CISCRP, about building trust, engaging communities and disseminating results as ways to engage patients in research. We learned about many exciting and innovative methods for recruitment that are being utilized across the country including social media, patient portals and deeply rooted community-engagement strategies. Dr. Sherrie Wallington of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center discussed ways we can achieve complete community involvement with our research through Community-Driven Research. She stressed not just simply conducting research and recruiting from certain communities, but truly engaging, partnering and getting the community involved and invested in research. Rose Hallam from The Ohio State University presented on cross promotional strategies for recruitment and making those avenues work together for the optimum recruitment results.
The day was full of dynamic presenters and lively cross-institutional dialogue. There were many takeaways that we could bring back to continue to advance the research done here at MHRI. It was a conference that anyone involved in clinical research would greatly benefit from. Pictured below are MHRI associates along with our GHUCCTS colleagues from Georgetown and Howard Universities.  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

2016 National Health Research Forum

Research!America, the nation's largest non-profit public education and advocacy alliance that works to make research to improve health the nation's priority, held it annual National Health Research Forum on September 8th at the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum in downtown DC.  This forum had leaders from across the medical research spectrum talking about timely topic, from funding for Zika research to patient centered engagement in research design and implementation.  There were also many notable speakers including the commissioner of the FDA (Dr. Rob Califf) to the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Dr Tony Fauci).  I even had a chance to speak to the new director of AHRQ (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) and one of our prior keynote speakers at our annual symposium, Dr. Joe Selby the executive director of PCORI (Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute).

For those that have not been to the Newseum, it is just a few blocks from the Capitol.  This was very symbolic since most often, when you discuss advocacy for medical research the topic of federal funding and policy is brought up.  So, from my seat , in which I saw the entire room (similar to the picture above) when I looked past the room and out the windows, this is what I would see....


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Making Time

Beginning in last month, I started sharing the monthly message from MedStar Research Focus here on my blog, in addition to the newsletter. MedStar Research Focus is released the first Sunday of each month and can be viewed on StarPort.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

“So, how was your summer?”

“Go anyplace interesting for vacation?”

“Can you believe the kids are going back to school already?”

It seems that every conversation in recent days has started with a reflection of how quickly the summer passed and changes that are approaching as we go into the fall. We all seem to relish the time off we had to take a break, breathe, enjoy our family and friends and even, perhaps, to experience something entirely new and exciting.

So I ask you: Does summertime enjoyment in any way diminish our passion and commitment to our professional lives?

I remember when I was a very ambitious medical student, working on a project with a cardiologist over the summer. He always made of point (barring emergencies) of getting out of the hospital by 6pm. I remember not fully understanding it. There was more work to be done, we weren’t tired, and what could possibly be more important than our research project? What truly confused me was that this cardiologist was remarkably successful and productive. At the end of the summer, I decided to ask him about it. He shared that having dinner with his family was very important to him, that his daily evening activities gave him energy for the next day and motivated him to start a little earlier and get things done in a timely manner. In short, it provided him additional motivation and the ability to be focused and productive while at work. I ended up working with this cardiologist throughout medical school and residency (7 years) and to this day, I consider him a mentor.

Recently in the Washington Post, there was a story1 about the crazy hours Americans work. One of the most notable quotes was from Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, who, when asked about whether she really could work 130 hours in a week, answered “The answer is yes, if you’re strategic about when you sleep, when you shower, and how often you go to the bathroom." It brought back (really bad) memories of how my roommates in medical school taped flip cards to the bathroom walls so every minute awake could be used for studying – craziness!

Since we live in an evidence-based world, let’s look at the data. A Stanford study in 20142 showed that productivity (work completed per unit of time) starts to decrease after 50 hours/week and really plummets after 55-60 hours/week. It’s not just cognitive impairment but physical effects too. After 55-60 hours/week, stress-induced impairments like sleep deprivation, depression, drinking, diabetes and impaired memory start to increase. Of course, those are detrimental on their own, but they are also bad for quality of work. These things lead to increased absenteeism, increased turnover, and impaired judgment. And if that wasn’t bad enough, a 2015 Lancet study3 showed the most alarming warning for workaholics yet: a 13% higher risk of heart disease and a 33% higher risk of stroke than those working 40 hours/week. All of these detrimental things come with the added expense of decreased productivity leading to a Harvard Business Review article entitled “The Research is Clear: Long Hours Backfire for People and for Companies.”
In Bob Rosen’s book Grounded, I learned that to be successful at work, you need all aspects of your life to be healthy. Your energy needs to be managed: “ …. energy to mentally juggle priorities and tasks, energy to concentrate and think clearly, energy to manage people’s personal issues, and energy to be active...”

Personal time is vital to recharging your energy and obtaining balance, which helps us be our best at work. We have an exciting academic year ahead of us and we need the very best in everyone, so I truly hope you had a wonderful, relaxing (and re-charging) summer!


Friday, September 2, 2016

Celebrating Labor Day 2016

This Labor Day, we at the MedStar Health Research Institute celebrate the contributions and achievements of our associates and all American workers.

From our nation's factories, corporations and small businesses, to our first responders, hospital teams and military bases, we celebrate your perseverance, strength and talent that are key to the freedom and prosperity we enjoy.  We are proud to contribute to this productivity by creating knowledge through research and applying that knowledge in a clinical setting -  in short, advancing health through research!

Have a great Labor Day weekend everyone.