MedStar Research Supports Collaborative Call for EHR Improvements

In a joint effort, experts from MedStar Health and the American Medical Association (AMA) have launched, highlighting patient safety and health information technology concerns with electronic health records (EHRs). 2019 marks the 10-year anniversary of the federal act which encouraged the adoption of EHRs. This collaboration builds on prior MedStar Health research that identified concerns with EHRs usability and errors. Read more.

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Eva Hochberger
Communications & Planning Manager, MHRI
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Lisa Wang
Senior Marketing Manager, ObEN
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MedStar Health Awarded HHS ONC Funding to Advance Health IT and Clinical Knowledge at the Point of Care

Two Winners Receive Nearly $2 Million Total Over Two Years

Hyattsville, MD —MedStar Health’s National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare is one of two winners nationally to be awarded nearly $2 million of combined funding over two years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology (IT) to accelerate health IT interoperability. Part of the Leading Edge Acceleration Projects (LEAP) in Health IT grant, the Human Factors Center’s work will transform stand-alone Million Hearts® risk calculators for heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease into active surveillance tools that clinicians can use in electronic health records (EHRs) to integrate and improve patient care.

While there are many clinical decision support (CDS) tools that enable providers to calculate and display a patient’s risk for these conditions, the Million Hearts suite of calculators requires clinician activation. Led by the Human Factors Center’s Scientific Director Kristen Miller, DrPH, CPPS, this work will leverage application programming interfaces (APIs), health IT architecture that allows one software application to seamlessly access the services of another, to adapt the Million Hearts stand-alone risk calculators into an active surveillance application that coordinates care across platforms and providers.

“Risk calculators already exist for multiple conditions and contribute to the enormous amount of data available to providers,” says Dr. Miller. “We aim to seamlessly and securely link the many sources of information together in an application to improve provider decision-making and patient outcomes across the spectrum of care.”

Successfully prompting clinicians at the point of care to ensure patients are treated as effectively as possible is a complex problem including technological, policy, and sociotechnical challenges. Current technical barriers include stand-alone applications, interruptive alerts, the inability to coordinate data across care settings, and inefficiencies in maintaining accurate knowledge-based systems. Meanwhile, policies tied to U.S. Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI), Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT), and information blocking present challenges. Additionally, sociotechnical issues involve successful adoption of CDS, care coordination, and shared decision-making.

Deliverables during the two-year award will include application development and refinement, workflow analysis, usability testing with clinicians, and user-centered design with patients. The team’s prototype will be piloted in clinical practice at MedStar Health and evaluated on its ability to improve care structures, processes, and outcomes. Additionally, they will produce pilot, workflow analysis, and usability testing reports; patient-facing educational materials; and a legal and policy landscape assessment.

Ultimately, the Human Factors Center project team seeks to leverage SMART (Substitutable Medical Applications, Reusable Technologies) on FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) to realize the potential for data-driven infrastructures to better support clinical knowledge. The project is formally titled: Mobilizing a Million Hearts: Leveraging Health IT Architecture to Advance Clinical Knowledge and Care Coordination.

Learn more about this award in the HHS press release: HHS Announces LEAP in Health IT Winner. The Human Factors Center’s work is listed under its affiliation with the MedStar Health Research Institute.

About MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare
The MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare occupies a unique position in the United States as the largest human factors program embedded within a healthcare system. It brings together human factors scientists, systems safety engineers, health services researchers, clinicians, and other experts to create a safer and more efficient healthcare environment through four core services in research, usability, safety advisement, and education. The center is part of the MedStar Institute for Innovation and is also affiliated with the MedStar Health Research Institute and MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety. MedStar Health, the parent organization, is the largest not-for-profit healthcare provider in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., region, with 10 hospitals and an extensive ambulatory services network, and is the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University.  

About MedStar Health Research Institute
The MedStar Health Research Institute is the research arm of MedStar Health, the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region. MHRI provides scientific, administrative, and regulatory support for research programs throughout the MedStar Health system. MHRI’s expertise includes translational research into disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. These programs complement the key clinical services and teaching programs in the 10 MedStar hospitals and other MedStar entities. For more information, visit

About MedStar Health
MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation, and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion, and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit


Eva Hochberger
Communications & Planning Manager
Phone: 301-560-2917
Email: [email protected]

MedStar Health Selected to Participate in AHRQ Research Network to Ensure Safe, Quality, and Accessible Healthcare

Focus Is Making Health Care Safer, Increasing Accessibility

MedStar Health has been selected by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to participate in its research network known as ACTION III (Accelerating Change and Transformation in Organizations and Networks). MedStar is one of just 13 healthcare organizations to win the five-year award. As part of this network, MedStar has become eligible to become a direct contractor with the federal government to undertake research focused on one or more of AHRQ’s priorities:

  • Improve the quality of health care and care delivery.
  • Make health care safer.
  • Increase accessibility.
  • Improve healthcare affordability, efficiency and cost transparency.

With 10 hospitals, 20 diversified healthcare entities, more than 150 service locations, and 6,000 physicians, MedStar Health provides care to one of the most culturally and socioeconomically diverse areas in the United States.  MedStar has nationally recognized research experts in the MedStar Health Research Institute, the National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, the MedStar Institute for Innovation, and the MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety. The Research Institute continues to be among the top 20 percent of U.S. institutions receiving funds from the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies.

“Through this network, we will leverage MedStar’s breadth and depth as a healthcare provider, our experience and our commitment to collaborate, in pursuit of better health outcomes,” said Neil J. Weissman, MD, president of MedStar Health Research Institute.

MedStar is already engaged in AHRQ’s ACTION II network, through a partnership with the Healthcare Research and Educational Trust, in a project called CANDOR (Communications and Optimal Resolution). CANDOR involves developing and testing an educational toolkit to help hospitals respond to, defuse and quickly resolve potential patient harm situations.   

In responding to the highly competitive bid process, MedStar organized its own network that includes 22 partners from outside the health system, including universities, foundations, a health department, hospital association, patient safety organizations, and a startup incubator.


Ann C. Nickels
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Katie N. Carlin, MBA
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