Thursday, August 30, 2018

Research is Making Healthcare Safer

When we talk about medical research, most people frequently think about curing disease or increasing the quality of life of patients. Research also has the ability to inform the policy and guide change across the nation.

A report was recently released by The Pew Charitable Trusts, MedStar Health’s National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, and the American Medical Association highlighted potential best practices when it comes to implementing and using an EHR safely in the hospital setting. You can read the report here. This collaborative work shares a framework for healthcare systems to use to identify usability-related risks to patients throughout the life cycle of EHRs, including the design, customization, implementation, and training stages.

Even more remarkable than the report itself is that in the few days it's been released, it has already been shared with the Joint Commission. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States.

Congratulations to the research team on such important and wide reaching work!

Friday, August 17, 2018

An Eye Catching Patent at MedStar

Congratulations to Allan Fong, MS, Raj Ratwani, PhD, Zach Hettinger, MD, and Daniel Hoffman on their recent paten! 

The team of researchers from  MedStar Health’s National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare has received a U.S. utility patent for a novel system that analyzes eye-tracking data. This work brings together the technology of eye tracking that has been used in other industries for years with machine learning. This is important in the healthcare industry, as it can be used to help investigators understand clinicians’ interaction with electronic systems and ultimately allow clinicians to safely and efficiently interact with the electronic systems they use every day.

You can read the full press release here. Congratulations again to the team!

Eye tracking in action with Dr. Zach Hettinger and Dr. Raj Ratwani (Photo credit: The Washington Business Journal)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Health Services Researchers Present at National Conference

Guest Blogger:
Angela D. Thomas, DrPH, MPH, MBA
Executive Director, MedStar Health Services Research Network
MedStar Health Research Institute

Recently, AcademyHealth held its Annual Research Meeting, known as “ARM”, in Seattle, Washington.  The theme of this year’s ARM was “Today’s Research Driving Tomorrow’s Outcomes”, where health services researchers nationally and internationally came together to hear abstract presentations on current research, learn about career development opportunities, discuss critical and emerging issues in  health services research (HSR), learn new HSR methods, discuss policy, discover new research resources, and much more. 

AcademyHealth’s ARM recognizes the depth and breadth of the health services research field, as it offered 21 different themes applied to each of its 153 sessions available and nearly 600 posters. Some of these themes included:
  • Digital Technologies and Health Equity
  • High Cost, High Need
  • Improving & Measuring Safety, Quality, and Value
  • Patient-Centered Research
  • Payment and Delivery Systems Innovations
  • Public and Population Health
This year, I had the pleasure of presenting under the “Improving Safety, Quality, and Value” them in a session entitled “Safer Care: Progress toward the Goal”. I presented on “Race Differences in Adverse Patient Safety Events in Organizations Applying High Reliability Principles”.  Dr. Jessica Galarraga,  health services researcher and physician investigator, presented under the “Payment and Delivery Systems Innovations” theme, in a session entitled “Global Budget and Global Payment Models”, where she presented her work on “The Effects of Global Budgeting on Emergency Department Admission Rates”.  Tracy Kim,  research assistant with MedStar’s National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, also represented MedStar well with a poster “Looking at the Bigger Picture: Analysis of Patient Safety Event Reports in Mental Health Units”.
Next year, AcademyHealth’s ARM will take place in Washington, DC June 2-4th.  Mark your calendars now and plan not only to attend but to present your research!  ARM’s breadth of themes offers MedStar a platform for presenting research from many different areas in our organization.  By attending ARM, not only will you reap the career and personal development rewards of attending, but you will also help to increase the national presence of MedStar Health.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Going from MHRI to Residency

Guest Blogger:
Becky Montalvo

Executive Director, MedStar Community Clinical Research Center (MCCRC)

At MHRI, what professional development means to our associates varies. Some associates want to gain certificates, attend conferences, or find other ways to expand their professional horizons to advance in their careers. I’m happy to share briefly about 4 associates from MedStar Community Clinical Research Center (MCCRC) who have advanced their medical careers with securing medical residencies, and at their top choice, which is MedStar Health.

This year, Saif Almushhadani and Nawar Suleman said their farewell to MHRI for the most wonderful reason – they were accepted as medical residents to MedStar Health’s program in Baltimore. Saif and Nawar are following two prior MCCRC associates, Sayf Yassin, and Zayd Nashaat who also matched to a medical residency at MedStar Health three years and two years ago, respectively. Zayd is now starting his final year as Chief Resident. We are so proud of and happy for these four MCCRC associates, who committed their time and effort to MHRI along their way towards their dream of residency.

Nawar Suleman with Amy Loveland.
Amy was each of their supervisors in MCCRC.
Many don’t realize how challenging it is to land residency many years out from medical school, yet their tenacity and perseverance has paid off. Sayf and Zayd started as volunteers with MCCRC and then joined the MCCRC team as associates. For all four, their opportunities within MHRI and connection to the MedStar clinical community helped support their steps towards residency.

“We are all grateful for getting into residency and for the opportunity that helped us getting into the residency which is, in this case, MHRI-MCCRC,” said Sayf.

Sayf Yassin

Zayd Nashaat & Saif Almushhadani
Zayd comments, “We are very grateful for everything our MCCRC family provided us. They stood by us and supported us endlessly, and made everything we achieved possible!”

And from Saif, “My time with MCCRC was such an enhancing experience. It helped me widen my knowledge in the clinical research field. It also, with the support of management and my coworkers, opened the door to my dream to come true. It was such an honor working with such an amazing family.”

Thank you Dr. Sayf Yassin, Dr. Zayd Nashaat, Dr. Saif Almushhadani, and Dr. Nawar Suleman for sharing your time with us at MCCRC and we wish you the best success now and in your bright medical futures!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Digital Transformation

Below is my monthly message for the August 2018 edition of the MHRI newsletter, Focus. You can view Focus online at

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

What does ‘Digital Transformation’ mean to you?

I just participated in a STARLab (Socio-Technical Action Research Lab) dedicated to this topic. In these roundtable discussions, a diverse group of people shared their experience, perspective, and vision for how the coming digital transformations will change our lives and, subsequently, our business models. This think-tank activity took place in Silicon Valley (of course!) and was attended by approximately 50 people representing very diversified business lines such as Google, Amgen, BASF (a chemical company), Deutsch Bank, Magellan Health, Nike, and Shell.
So what did I learn? Here is an abridged list:
The orginal 2007 iPhone next to the 2017 update (via Cnet)
  • The speed of digital change is accelerating so the changes we saw in the last 5-10 years will pale in comparison to what we will see in the next 10 years.  (Think about that: the iPhone was introduced just over 10 years ago.)
  • Because of the increasing rate of change, we need to learn faster, try more things, and be willing to fail (and fail as quickly as possible, so we can move on to another idea).
  • If we don’t disrupt our own business models (re-invent ourselves in the increasingly digital world) someone else will.
  • Digitalization of everything will drive increased efficiency and change consumer expectations (more, faster, easier).
  • Digital transformation is no longer an opportunity… it is an imperative!
Besides gaining information on the future digital changes, I also learned a lot from listening to these other large, global companies. For example, most have a matrixed organizational structure and struggle to combat the silo effect. Silos can make it hard to recognize the synergistic potential across the entire organization, so many have developed internal ‘social networking’ tools to build collaboration. Furthermore, the younger companies recognize the need to constantly change. For example, Google anticipates the need to continually change by incorporating an assessment of agility and the applicants’ comfort with change when they recruit any team member. They seek employees that view a career as a journey and not a destination.

Pepper can perceive emotions (via SoftBank)

Healthcare can learn a lot from these companies. At MHRI, we have many digital transformation initiatives happening right now! This includes: 1) our recent implementation of our CTMS (clinical trial management system) across the entire system and in partnership with Georgetown, 2) the ongoing implantation of a new IRB electronic platform (Huron Research Systems), also in partnership with Georgetown, 3) continued integration of research with our EHR (PowerTrials) and 4) the exploration this year of new mobile technologies that support clinical trial operations.

The digital transformation is an exciting time for healthcare and filled with unimaginable opportunities. With the help of these technologies, we will be able to advance health like never before. I am excited for tomorrow and working with the entire MedStar-Georgetown community to create that tomorrow together.

I hope you are enjoying the summer. Enjoy this month’s issue of FOCUS.