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MedStar Health Services Research Network

Health Services Research at MHRI

About the MedStar Health Services Research Network

MedStar Health investigators are dedicated to identifying ways to advance healthcare. Health services research at MedStar includes palliative care, health economics and policy, human factors and health information technology. Our health services research program has several subdivisions focused on research in the following areas.

Comparative Effectiveness

MedStar Health's comparative effectiveness research (CER) program is comprised of senior medical investigators who have been conducting patient-centered outcomes research and community-based clinical research interventions for more than twenty years. Our investigators are experienced at serving as national resources for health researchers and policymakers and participating on national committees that help set national health priorities and recommend standards of care.

Research topics of interest to MedStar CER investigators include

  • Studies that compare different interventions and strategies to prevent, diagnose, treat and monitor health conditions
  • Programs that inform patients, providers, and decision-makers about which interventions are most effective for specific conditions and circumstances
  • Assessments of health-related outcomes for diverse patient populations
  • Cost of healthcare and its relative efficiency and effectiveness
  • Programs the enable research findings to be translated into health policy

Health Economics and Policy

MedStar Health's economic and policy experts focus on identifying ways to understand and improve the quality, efficiency, affordability, equity, and financing of health care.

Research topics of interest to our investigators include

  • Payment methods for healthcare services (e.g, bundled payments, pay for performance, etc.
  • Organizing and financing the healthcare delivery system to improve access
  • Examining needed policy changes
  • Developing and testing new delivery of care models
  • Creating, deploying and evaluating innovative system changes
  • Analyzing demographic and cost trends associated with Medicare and Medicaid spending
  • Comparative effectiveness assessments

Health IT

MedStar's Health Information Technology (IT) research program is possible through a unique collaboration between nurses, physicians, computer scientists, game designers, human factors engineers, instructional designers, researchers and clinical educators. MedStar's Health IT primary research programs can be categorized as:

  • Electronic medical records (EMR): As the research arm of MedStar Health, MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) serves as the administrator for the research informatics applications that are used to access and analyze the system-wide data stored in MedStar's EMR. For hypothesis driven research, MHRI uses an innovative cloud computing technology to run queries in an instantaneous fashion against data stored in the MedStar EMR and related registries.
  • Simulation and training: MedStar's Simulation and Training Environment Laboratory (SiTEL), creates innovative training and education solutions for high-risk environments. Its mission is to transform educational approaches in healthcare by developing 21st century training technologies with state of the art pedagogical approaches that are user friendly and easily accessible.
  • Use of IT to improve the delivery of care: MedStar Health has numerous IT-related research and demonstration projects underway throughout the system. the goal for each project it to ascertain if the IT solution can enhance the delivery of care and/or reduce healthcare costs.

Human Factors and Patient Safety

Human Factors Engineering (HFE) is an applied science that takes into consideration human capabilities and limitations when designing products, processes, and work environments. MedStar's HFE division, the National Center for Human Factors Engineering in Healthcare (NCHFEH) is a unique scientific and research center that works with clinicians, engineers and IT professionals to design new healthcare-related systems, processes, instruments, medical devices and work environments that have the potential to better protect patients and improve patient safety in today's complex world of medicine.

NCHFEH is a center within the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2), the innovation division of MedStar Health, whose mission is to catalyze and create innovation that advances health across the MedStar system and in the communities we serve. MI2 examines fresh approaches to difficult problems in health care, and creates solutions in the domains of learning, simulation, information, and building science in addition to HFE.

MedStar's human factors engineers and investigators apply their expertise to the following areas

  • System safety engineering
  • Healthcare ergonomics
  • Proactive risk assessment
  • Patient safety
  • Healthcare-related systems design
  • Medical device efficacy
  • Work environment design
  • Effective root cause analysis solutions
  • Usability evaluation

Nursing Research

MedStar Health’s system-wide nursing research council focuses on advancing and applying evidence-based practice to improve patient safety and healthcare outcomes. Our research initiatives, led by nurse researchers and registered nurses, are designed specifically to create an education and mentoring program that fosters the development of evidence-based practice and research activities and to expand participation in multi-site IRB-approved nursing research studies.

MedStar Health Research Institute, in collaboration with nurses throughout MedStar Health, is currently conducting nursing research initiatives that focus on issues nurses routinely face in day-to-day practice. These studies include projects evaluating methods to increase quality of life for critically-ill hospitalized patients, examining and enhancing the effectiveness of charting methods and flagging systems for more reliable clinical communication, and assessing workflow improvements. Our interdisciplinary research approaches have resulted in innovative practices and increased knowledge of ways to improve patient care at the bedside. Some of research topics include:

  • Nursing quality and patient safety improvements
  • Healthcare delivery
  • Educational methods and professional development opportunities that result in workforce improvements

Quality Improvement

An important factor in MedStar's quality improvement (QI) success is its commitment to translating proven research methods into practice. MedStar Health QI investigators are embedded in the clinical workforce and collaborate with their medical and clinical peers to discover better ways to ensure that patients receive the care they need - safely, compassionately, and when they need it.

Research topics of interest to MedStar's QI investigators include:

  • Access to care
  • New approaches to coordinating systems of care
  • Improvements in signage, documentation procedures and workflow processes
  • Behaviors and decision-making processes of patients and clinicians
  • Health it solutions and point-of- care decision support tools
  • Efficiencies that reduce healthcare costs
  • Approaches that strengthen the patient/clinician relationship

In addition, the QI investigators work closely with MedStar's safety experts and its human factors engineering program on quality improvement initiatives that enhance patient safety.

Contact Information

Contact us to obtain more information about our research programs.



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If you would like to learn more about MedStar’s researchers and scientists, please visit our Principal Investigator search portal.