Thursday, November 16, 2017

Investigator Orientation

Twice a year, we welcome MedStar investigators at the UTC offices for a full day of Investigator Orientation. Hosted by our Office of Research Development, Planning and Communications, the day is packed full of information to help investigators make the most of their work at MedStar.

The day covers the importance of research at MedStar to the structure of our Scientific Centers. Time is devoted to the proposal development stage and resources that MHRI has to offer investigators. We also cover how the EHR can be used to support your research.

It’s always a great day to meet other investigators and the team that MHRI has to support research. Thank you to our planning team and those who were able to attend. If you are interested in attending our spring orientation, contact

Monday, November 13, 2017

Asking Questions

Guest Blogger: Eva HochbergerMarketing & Communications Coordinator, Office of Research Development, Planning & Communications

I was invited to attend the 2017 Mi2 Forum recently, and it always covers lots of ground in one day. This year’s event, called “Framechangers” gave me lots of food for thought in terms of what we can bring to the table in the future. There was an underlying theme of asking questions. Working for the research institute means that I work with associates and investigators who have made their career out of asking questions.

Donna Harris

What makes the Mi2 Forum stand out from other events is that they invite associates from every level and entity of MedStar Health. My table included a resident at MWHC (who does research!), a coordinator on our Health Services Research team, a member of the Organizational Effectiveness team, two outside guests and a lawyer. Bringing together all these perspectives to listen to speakers on topics ranging from neurosurgery and horses to interviewing on CNN or where we can get good ideas allows for all of us to grow.

So, what questions did I walk away with?
  1. Don’t only ask what’s the best way to do something, ask why are we doing it at all? (Donna Harris)
  2. How can we combine both intellect and imagination? (Frank Sesno)
  3. What are the coffee houses of the future? How do they foster collaboration and development? (Steven Johnson)
  4. Is there a way to think more like prey than a predator? (Allan Hamilton)
  5. Why is the Singularity always named Bob? (Michael Gilliam)

A "fireside chat" with Frank Sesno and Mark Smith
The event is also live-streamed and recorded, if you want to take some time and work on your professional development. The the livestream videos are available now, and fully polished videos will be coming soon at

Monday, November 6, 2017

How Do Lobsters Grow?

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

Friends and Colleagues,

Do you have any idea ‘How Do Lobsters Grow’?

This odd question was put forward at a physician leadership development course earlier this year and has stuck with me ever since. Many don’t realize this, but lobsters are soft, mushy creatures that live in a rigid, hard shell. The shell, obviously, can’t be too big nor too small, so this naturally begs the do lobsters grow?

In a short, compelling video by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski, he explains that as the shell starts to become confining, the lobster feels increased pressure and grows uncomfortable. This stimulates the lobster to crawl under a rock, cast off the shell and produce a new one. The lobster will keep repeating this routine whenever the constraint of the hard shell causes discomfort and stress. He effectively makes the point that the stimulus for the lobster to be able to grow is that it feels uncomfortable. That means that times of stress are also signals for times of growth.

Wow…That is a powerful message and has stayed with me. We all experience times of stress. Stressful experiences are often painful, frustrating and disheartening. They can bring out the worse in us, even when we don’t want it to. However, what if you keep Dr. Twerski’s lobster story in your head and recognize that these stressful times are actually times of growth? Wow, that changes everything!

I was thinking of Dr. Twerski’s video over the last few weeks as we finished our MHRI Fall Town Halls. A major portion of the meeting was dedicated to the IT investments MHRI is making to enhance our infrastructure for clinical trials across the system. In the last few months, we have: 1) gone live with OnCore, a clinical trial management system which handles all aspects of a trial from patient enrollment to sponsor billing, 2) started the installation of PowerTrials, a new feature in the Cerner EHR that will allow for viewing of clinical research information within a patient’s health record, 3) disseminated Vestigo, an IT platform for research pharmacists, across the system and 4) decided on a new IRB electronic system which we will install with our partners at Georgetown so all investigators, at Georgetown and MedStar, can use one IRB system.

That is a lot of change happening in a short period of time and will undoubtedly stress all members of the research team. While the implementation and roll-out of these systems has taken substantial planning with roadblocks along the way, it is the change that is necessary for us to keep growing as an organization. Times of stress are also the signals of growth. I am excited to think about our future-state when all of these IT platforms are fully implemented with automatic interfaces allowing for efficient management, improved communication and enhanced utility of clinical trials for all our patients. It hasn’t been easy, but we can at least thank lobsters for showing us how to grow!

Enjoy this month’s research e-newsletter and thank you for contributing to our growth!


Read Focus at

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Protecting Future Patients through Research

Recently in Focus, we highlighted a project from A. Zach Hettinger, MD, MS, Medical Director and Director of Cognitive Informatics at MedStar Institute for Innovation (Mi2). The work was funded by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). 
Much like the airline industry uses HRO as a safety net, “Context is Critical: Understanding When and Why EHR-Related Safety” will test the feasibility of using a black box methodology tied to EHRs. The official public profile has gone live on the AHRQ website!
This research has great potential for future patients, as it hopes to create evidence-based recommendations for safer EHR design that may be useful to all stakeholders, including healthcare teams. Congratulations to the research team and I look forward to seeing the results of this great work!
Airline black boxes are actually orange! Image from How Stuff Works

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Fall Town Halls: Investing In MHRI

Thank you to all who were able to join us at a town hall! With so much going on in our business lives, it’s nice to be able to take some time and touch base on the progress we are making as a whole.

Each town hall, we try to include a safety moment that reflects MHRI as a whole. It was great to be able to open our town halls recognizing the great work of some of our associates. The following HeRO Awards were presented at the town halls. Thank you all for your commitment to HRO and patient safety, no matter your role at MedStar.

  • HeRO Good Catch Award: Ron M. Migues
  • Safety Coach HeRO Award: Rachel Campbell, RN
  • HeRO Non-clinical Award: Sarah Wright-Gaul
  • Nursing HeRO Award: Jean Flack, RN
  • Team HeRO Good Catch Award: Research Development, Planning, and Communications
Mary Anne Hinkson and Allison Keuthen were on hand to present the status of OnCore implementation and why it is so important to our associates. Thanks to those associates who shared why OnCore is helping them with their day-to-day. I was pleased to share the progress we are making in implementing a clinical pharmacy system and a new IRB program. These investments in our IT infrastructure may not affect your role specifically, but they will allow for MHRI associates to run more smoothly and efficiently.
Across the system, the first two weeks of October are the Power to Heal campaign. Thank you to all of you who have donated and thank you ALL for being ambassadors of research. We were joined by Dr. Avi Giladi and Dr. Jessica Galagarra, who shared the impact of the New Investigator fund on their research.
There were lots of updates, so be sure to check for the email that went out from Eva Hochberger for the details on the following items: CMS training, open enrollment, year-end celebrations, and flu shots.
If you have any additional questions or feedback, please contact me or use the 2-Way Communication feature on StarPort. We look forward to seeing you all in the spring!


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Sharing the Power to Heal

At UTC, we are joining in the larger MedStar initiative to create a gratitude banner. Associates have been sharing what they are grateful for over the past few weeks and it’s clear that there is an underlying theme: associates are grateful for their fellow associates.


Many of the messages on the banner highlight the great team of associates at MHRI, from those who see patients every day to those who support those teams. For the first time this year, during our associate giving campaign, you are now able to donate in honor of another associate. Please take some time this week to make an impact on the future of research and share your gratitude with a fellow associate.
Visit to make your donation today.
If you'd like to hear about the impact of the New Investigator fund, which is supported by the Power to Heal campagin, take a moment to hear from a 2016 fund recipient, Dr. Avi Giladi, research director of the Curtis National Hand  Center at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Awarding a HeRO

Guest Blogger: Colleen A. Kelly, CCRC, CIM
Manager, Clinical Trials
Baltimore Cardiology

Joan Bardsley, MBA, RN, CDE, FAADE, Assistant VP Special Projects, presented Rachel Campbell, RN, Baltimore Cardiology Research Nurse Coordinator, with the MHRI Safety Coach HeRO Award at the MHRI Town Hall meeting.

Rachel has demonstrated exemplary commitment as the MHRI, Baltimore Cardiology Safety Coach. She is vigilant in recognizing potential safety catches and uses the HRO principles on a daily basis.  She consistently reports her safety observations every week and provides timely feedback.

In January 2017, Rachel reported a Safety Coach observation which featured her co-worker’s (Judith Raqueno, RN, BSN, Research Nurse and Heart Valve/TAVR Study Coordinator) observation.  They determined that there was a discrepancy in a subject’s final catheterization report and brought it to the attention of the Principal Investigator. The discrepancy was determined to be a dictation error and, as a result, all clinical and study documentation was immediately corrected.

The Good Catch was featured by Seth Krevat, MD and disseminated to thousands of MedStar associates across the MS system.

In addition, Rachel is an experienced Research Nurse Coordinator who cares deeply for each of her research patients and their families.

We are grateful to Rachel for her dedication to the MedStar HRO principles!

Note from Neil: In addition to Rachel, the following MHRI associates were also presented with HeRO Awards at the Fall town halls. Thank you all for your continued commitment to patient safety!
  • HeRO Good Catch Award: Ron M. Migues
  • HeRO Non-clinical Award: Sarah Wright-Gaul
  • Nursing HeRO Award: Jean Flack, RN
  • Team HeRO Good Catch Award: Research Development, Planning and Communications