MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare Medical Director A. Zach Hettinger, MD (white coat), and Scientific Director Raj Ratwani, PhD at SiTEL demonstrating the eye imaging technology. Photo courtesy of Washington Business Journal

Winners of the MedStar Start-Up Challenge: Thinking Outside Healthcare’s Traditional Box—Shifting the Frame from Patient to Consumer.

Chief Innovation Officer Mark Smith at the 2017 MI2 Innovation Forum.

MedStar Health’s forward-thinking approach

By Laura Toraldo

(Jan 11, 2018 —WASHINGTON, DC) The term innovation can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. For MedStar’s Jeffrey Collins, administrative director and director of external alliances for MedStar Institute for Innovation, known as MI2, it means “a continuum of change.”

That change could be a redesign of the hospital gown that gives a fashionable edge to recurrent patients, or an alignment of system data that could save an organization millions of dollars.

“When it comes to innovation, execution is the baseline, then improvement on execution, and then beyond innovation, you have transformation—or full-system change,” said Collins. “Innovation connects the dots between improvement and transformation.”

MI2 aims to improve the way that MedStar Health does business in a broad capacity through advances in technology, improvements to patient care, research on safety and processes, and more.

“We look to be both practical and opportunistic, creating things that could add value to MedStar’s systems.”

Since launching in 2009, one of the first programs formed through MI2 was based around technology. Through an innovation alliance with the Cleveland Clinic, MI2 powered MedStar’s Inventor Services, both the technology development arm and the commercialization of that technology for the health system. The goal is to create improved systems for both MedStar and other health care companies.

But MI2 is much more than just technology. It looks to catalyze, innovate, and connect the 30,000 associates and 6,000 affiliated physicians at MedStar with an abundance of resources to solve problems.

Employees have the opportunity to work with MI2 or leverage the strategies and tactics that it develops. It reaches employees through virtual communication, seminars, and facilitated brainstorming sessions.

“Brainstorming sessions help lift out pain points and isolate high-yield issues that can then move toward solutions,” Collins said. “We can solve problems that are present throughout the system—implementing technologies that have extensive application to the business as a whole.

“We are the front door to take in problems and leverage talented people looking for a creative release through collaboration,” he explained.

As part of this unique talent acquisition, MI2 has created one of the biggest human factors centers in health care. The center designs systems for safe and efficient patient care and treatment, creates and delivers high-quality education and training, and promotes a culture of safety among clinicians to better serve patients.

“It’s really a combination of cognitive psychology and industrial systems engineering,” Collins explained. “We flip the traditional approach of simply training people to do better, and seek to improve the inherent safety of our systems.”

While MI2’s primary audience is MedStar, they also collaborate with innovators outside of MedStar, fostering well-intentioned, cutting-edge health care startups. Whether these startups are focused on improving the patient experience, helping provide treatment for the elderly, or designing technical data solutions, they all have one thing in common—they are doing something new and different.

“We want all comers,” said Collins. “We want to be a part of the latest and greatest.”

Employees prepare for the unexpected at MedStar Institute for Innovation’s Clinical Simulation Center.

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by Laura Toraldo

Laura Toraldo joined the Maryland Chamber of Commerce in the fall of 2016 as the director of marketing and communications. She comes to the Maryland Chamber from National Geographic, where she worked for nearly 10 years—most recently as their multimedia editor.

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