Monday, July 31, 2017

MHRI Teaches "We Want to Know" for Patient Safety in Real Time

Each week, MedStar leaders and associates receive a "Good Catch of the Week". I was pleased to see that this week's safety catch was from a member of our health services research team, working on our We Want to Know program.
Integrating patients and families into patient safety is a necessity if we want to continue moving towards zero harm. The We Want to Know research program currently being deployed across MedStar in support of the Interdisciplinary Model of Care (IMOC) efforts is designed to make it easy for patients and their family members to speak-up when care isn't going as well as they expected. Talk about Deference to Expertise!!  (Reminder - Deference to Expertise is one of the five principles of HROs that says we defer to the person with the most knowledge relevant to the issue being confronted).

Our patients and our families often have the most knowledge but too often in healthcare, we forget this. By proactively leveraging patient and family knowledge through the We Want to Know program, we continue to make care better for our patients.

Learn more about the We Want to Know progam at MedStar:

Today's Good Catch is from MedStar Health Research Institute

Guest Author: Kimberly L. Cockey, Quality and Safety Research

As the We Want to Know (WWTK) Specialist at Franklin Square, I have the privilege of speaking to our many diverse patients and their families. Following is a story that came from a recent WWTK interview and highlights what is special about MedStar. 

I was having a typical day, going from room to room, asking patients how they felt about their care. In one particular room, I received a polite invitation from a small voice in the recliner across the room. I introduced myself and the WWTK program, and asked the patient about her stay. She said she was happy with her care, and reported that her care team was doing a great job. What she was really concerned about was whether or not she would be discharged by Friday.  

"You see," she said, "Friday is my 100th birthday, and I must be out of here because I have plans to celebrate." She was very excited as she filled me in on her birthday plans. She then proudly showed off a large birthday card that was signed by everyone at her church. 

At the end of the day, I documented my interview with the patient in an email to unit and hospital leadership. Based on a single sentence about her birthday in my email, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center associates rallied to celebrate her birthday. Hospital leadership requested a cake, Food and Nutrition Services ordered it, and leaders and staff came together to present her with the cake and sing "Happy Birthday." She received well wishes from all over the hospital. I am happy to report that the patient was discharged in time to make it to her evening festivities.

Her family shared with us the following message: "Thank you for making her 100th birthday special...and for getting her transferred and settled for the family celebration. Also for the treatment and care she received during her stay with you."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

More Learning at Lunch!

As I’ve posted before, we are building out our community of continuous learning at MHRI through lunch and learn sessions. Our latest one was held on two different days, at the UTC office and at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center.

Tina Stanger and Emily Paku presented this at a recent conference they attended. Thanks for bringing it to us! “Clinical Trials Jeopardy” was for all associates to learn about other aspects of clinical research, from budgets and contracts to recruitment. A fun way to learn, it brought associates together to learn!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Welcoming New Associates to MHRI

Following the 2013 survey, we implemented the "New Hire Breakfast" as a way to engage associates in their first few months with MHRI. I wrote about the breakfast at the launch of the event, and then again two years ago.  And now, four years later, we are still at it but with its new, updated format.

When we started the New Hire Breakfast, we gave everyone a chance to introduce themselves, share what was going well and open up for suggestions of what we can do to improve the first few weeks at MedStar.  We learned a lot and improved the 'on-boarding' process using this informatiion.  We also used the time to share more information about MedStar and reserach at MedStar.  While everyone seemed to appreciate it, what happened is that it turned into another 'lecture' by me so we turned things around!  Now, the new associates meet without me in the room, get to know each other and formulate a bunch of questions for me - then I come into the room and one of the senior MHRI leaders speaks on behalf of the group by drilling me with questions - from my favorite hobbys and pastimes to work-related questions about the direction of MHRI.  It was fun and I definately had some good and difficult questions!

It was great to sit down and meet our new associates, along with Mary Anne Hinkson, Mel Goodrich, Kathi Edwards and Karen Wade  We have a great team and it just continues to get better every day!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Celebrating Summer with Scholarship Recipients

MedStar Academic Affairs and Medstar Health Research Institute hosted a BBQ last weekend for the Georgetown medical students in this year’s Summer Research Scholarship Program and their mentors, as well as the past and present MedStar Teaching & Research Scholars.

The event was held in North Beach at the Herrington Harbor Marine Resort– somewhat of a secret oasis in Maryland. Students, scholars and faculty came out with their families and enjoyed a beautiful day together outside the confines their various work environments. In addition to enjoying the delicious food and stimulating conversations, some took to the beach, while others took advantage of amenities such as kayaking, paddleboards and cornhole. There was fun to be had for adults and children alike! 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Summer Greetings from the Weissman's

Can you believe we are already half way through July?  Where is the summer going?

Well, I hope everyone is enjoying their summer with family and friends. People have asked about updates from my son and our 2 year old Golden Retriever so I will send along this picture of them cruising along in the kayak trying to stay cool. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Building Cathedrals

Guest Blogger: Chad League
Manager, Office of Contracts and Grants Management, Medstar Health Research Institute

It’s 7pm and I’m sitting in a hotel room on the 18th. floor, looking over slides that I will have to present in a little over twelve hours. Not even twelve hours ago, I found out that one of our co-presenters had to back out, and that many of her slides were now assigned to me. Despite having to publicly speak over and over again in law school, I have been out of practice. On top of that, I’m not just representing myself anymore. I’m representing a reputable organization to a number of potential and current business partners. I need to knock this out of the park!

As I prepare, I recall an anecdote that Dr. Weissman shared at an MHRI event when I first started – the stonecutter parable. Do I want to get up there and represent to the audience that I’m just cutting stone for a living, that all I do is collect a paycheck with no real investment into my craft? Or do I want to get up there and explain to them how I am trying to build a Notre Dame, how most of our contracts hinge on subject injury and indemnification language? How they are typically the cornerstones of every agreement? Naturally, my desire is for the latter. First thing is first though – don’t throw up.

Over four hours, two industry colleagues and I explain the importance of crafting indemnification and subject injury clauses. How every word matters, how the use of certain words might impact liability in unimaginable ways. Throughout the presentation, the audience stayed engaged, asked questions, and many people came up to us to introduce themselves, hand out business cards, and seek advice. Those people were from across the research industry, from pharma, sites and CROs. They were contracts administrators, budget analysts, attorneys, project managers.

In these meetings, it dawned on me how important getting out there and presenting at these conferences is for us at MHRI. Speaking in front of others who look to you for advice and innovative approaches, even in the field of research administration/contracts negotiation, puts us at the forefront of the industry. It makes us appear the expert stonecutter – and all of the other stonecutters in the room will want our advice on how to build cathedrals in a similar manner. The connections also happened to Tina after her presentations and after my workshop on subject injury and indemnification. I’m sure it happens to many other representatives from MedStar who present at conferences.

As MHRI and MedStar representatives venture out to these conferences and present, members of the industry will begin to view us as a prevalent force in clinical research. The greater a presence that we can sustain, the more likely it is that our industry partners, both current and potential, will realize that MedStar Health Research Institute is comprised of highly reputable, highly knowledgeable expert stonecutters.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Planning for a Central Recruitment Center

Last week I was joined by associates from across MHRI for a working dinner to plan for a central Recruitment Center.  This was the second meeting of this planning group. At the first meeting, we decided on three potential work streams that a central recruitment center can add value for the research teams - 1) Administrative/Call Center, 2) EHR/Cohort identification and 3) Internal and External Communications.  At this meeting, each work stream presented the results of their individual groups' effort. During the meeting, we provided feedback to each group and identified next steps to take.

I am excited about the potential of this centralized resource for research teams.  Once it comes to full fruition, having a central call center and place to help place 'marketing' material will be very helpful identifing qualified paitents for clinical trials. Furthermore, this effort will fit perfectly into our partnership with Georgetown through the CTSA's Research Participant Recruitment Unit.

I look forward to the progress we will make over the next few months.  While there is a lot of work to be done, we are off to a great start so stay tuned as we roll out different aspects during the upcoming academic year!


Friday, July 7, 2017

Spring Town Halls: Thanks to Our Engaged Associates!

Thank you to everyone who attended a spring town hall. It’s great to see all of you and let you know where MHRI stands and our future goals.

We focused on the results from the Associate Engagement Survey, taking the time to ask for your feedback on what we can view as opportunities and how to best support our associates in all roles. Senior leadership will be looking closely as the responses submitted to Slido so that we can best serve the needs of our associates.

We also took a moment to introduce new members of the MHRI associate family in our Human Resources department. Thanks to Mel Goodrich, Corporate Director of Human Resources, and Kathi Edwards, Human Resources Business Partner, for joining us at all our town halls to meet associates.

We always welcome feedback on how we can support you. You can use the StarPort 2-Way Communication Portal or email to share your thoughts, comments, questions and concerns.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Doing Good

Below is my monthly message for the July 2017 edition of the MHRI newsletter, Focus. You can view Focus online at

Friends and Colleagues,

“We choose to do good for a living.”

This past Friday, the day before a holiday weekend, the FBI had ‘Family Day’ for FBI employees from across the Washington area. In an unofficial show of support for former FBI Director James Comey, people wore matching #ComeyIsMyHomey shirts (see On the back was a quote from Comey that said, “We choose to do good for a living.”

All politics aside, that quote caught my attention. It immediately stirred up emotions and provoked thought. Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to know that the purpose of their work is to “do good for a living.”

During this holiday, as the nation celebrates it birthday, I take solace in knowing that I choose to do good for a living.  I choose to do this meaningful work with wonderful people who are also dedicated to this wholesome path. It should therefore come as no surprise that, as shared at MHRI Town Halls across the system, that 92% of MHRI associates on the recent Associate Survey said “I am proud to be a part of MedStar Health.”  Together we are advancing health for our community both today and tomorrow. I could not be prouder or more grateful.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful 4th of July weekend and enjoy the summer with their family and friends.