MedStar Researchers Making an Impact on Patient Outcomes Through Associate Support

Clinician speaking with older patient in lobby setting | Giving: The Power to Heal

Two years ago, MedStar Health Research Institute chose to plan for the future of research at MedStar by launching the “New Investigator – Associate Giving Grant Fund” from donations to the Power to Heal campaign by MedStar associates.

The New Investigator Grants support scientific research by new MedStar Health investigators, advancing health for patients in the communities we serve and providing seed money that may lead to external grant funding.

We are proud to announce that because of the generosity of MedStar Health associates, we are making strides toward advancing the health of the communities we serve. In the last year, recipients of New Investigator Grants have:

  • Leveraged pilot data to secure an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH-NIAID). This is the first-ever NIH R01 grant for our MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute. This project has the potential to help those who could benefit from a life-altering intestinal transplant (ITx), but are unable to do so because of the high risk of immunological complications.
  • Developed an online communication tool to mitigate potential errors in patient care caused by interruptions in the clinical setting. The tool is currently being pilot tested in the Emergency Department at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and is providing for more efficient communication between emergency physicians and nurses.
  • Examined the impact of operating room team member familiarity on process and patient safety outcomes related to knee replacement surgery. The findings have the potential to make a significant contribution toward improving patient care and safety in the peri-operative setting.

Providing Hope to Patients

Alexander Kroemer, MD, PhD, was a recipient of a grant from the 2015 Power to Heal campaign. His research, “The Role of Nuclear Oligomerization Binding Domain-2 in Driving Th17-Mediated Allograft Rejection in Intestinal Transplant Recipients,” built on previous preliminary work to test the hypothesis that Th17-mediated immune responses play a major role in the potential for intestinal transplant rejection.

For more than 99% of the 40,000 Americans who could benefit from a life-altering intestinal transplant (ITx), the procedure is not an option because of the high risk of immunological complications and costs. “The study we undertook has laid the foundation for unleashing the potential of ITx by understanding risk factors associated with immunologic graft loss at the intersection of the innate and adaptive immune systems and thereby providing insight into future targeted immunotherapies for the prevention/treatment of allograft rejection,” said Dr. Kroemer. “This will be a substantial contribution to public health in light of the rising numbers of people with intestinal failure.”

The data from this project played a large role in securing an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH-NIAID). This is the first-ever NIH R01 grant for the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute, and the project will run from 2017 to 2022. A presentation of this research was given locally by research fellow Brenna Houlihan, MD, at the MedStar-Georgetown Hufnagel Research Symposium.

Communicating Care

Kathryn Kellogg, MD, MPH,  wanted to investigate options to mitigate potential errors in patient care due to interruptions in the clinical setting, specifically in the MedStar Washington Hospital Center Emergency Department. “Development of a Novel Tool for Interruption Management” was funded by the 2015 Power to Heal campaign.

Few studies have previously examined causes for interruptions in clinical situations or explored ways to manage the negative effects of these interruptions.  In order to identify a more appropriate communication tool, this research sought to understand the types of interruptions that occur and create a novel approach for managing interruptions. A web-based tool for communication between emergency nurses and physicians was developed with the input of multiple emergency physicians and tested through simulation studies.

“When delivering care in a complex environment such as the emergency department, communication is essential for patient safety,” said Dr. Kellogg. “We have demonstrated that there is potential for improvement in performance and satisfaction of physicians using this tool. We will be able to strengthen the collaboration between colleagues, ultimately improving patient care with further development and testing of this tool.”

Connecting Clinicians

Shimae Fitzgibbons, MD, was a recipient of the New Investigator Grant funded from the 2015 Power to Heal campaign to investigate the relationship between patient outcomes and team familiarity in the operating room.

The goal of “Understanding Team Familiarity in the Operating Room” was to examine the potential impact of operating room team member familiarity on the process and patient safety outcomes. The dataset was limited to six MedStar Hospitals, all consistently using the surgical EMR, and to knee arthroplasty (knee replacement), in order to limit certain confounding. Three approaches to familiarity were used: in-role familiarity (familiarity amongst team members within a given role), cross-role familiarity (familiarity between roles), and overall familiarity (combination of both sets of scores). The core surgical team members participating in the procedure were classified into the following categories: surgeon, anesthesiology team member, scrub technician, and circulator.

The research identified that overall core team familiarity is associated with reduced surgery time and patient length of stay in knee arthroplasty cases. The greater the familiarity amongst operating room team members, the shorter the procedure lasts and the briefer the patient’s hospital stay. Follow-up analyses revealed that these effects were a function of cross-role familiarity rather than within-role familiarity.

Results also suggested that familiarity between the surgeon and the circulator(s) was paramount. “This has the potential to make a significant contribution toward improving the way we construct our operating teams,” said Dr. Fitzgibbons. “These results can provide theoretical insight into the mechanisms that underlie the benefits of team familiarity and, in turn, help shape future processes to facilitate those benefits.”

Your Power to Heal

MedStar Health has launched the 2017 Giving: The Power to Heal Campaign. This campaign, which runs through Friday, Oct. 20, invites associates and physicians to invest through philanthropy and support patient experience initiatives across the system.

“Associates throughout the MedStar family can have a powerful impact and have the Power to Heal through their support of research among our new investigators,” says Neil Weissman, MD, president of MedStar Health Research Institute. “We remain committed to our investigators and this is a chance to engage the wider MedStar Health community in the power of research to heal.”

We invite you to discover your Power to Heal and choose to make a difference today! Visit MedStarResearch.org/InspireHealing to learn more and select ‘Research at MedStar’ in the drop down menu.