Optimizing Health Information Technology: MedStar Researcher Receives Large Grant to Design a Safer System for Managing Medication Administration

Raj Ratwani, PhD

Hyattsville, MD (July 11, 2018)Raj Ratwani, PhD, has been awarded an R01 grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to study electronic medication administration records to identify current safety issues and needs of clinicians and then develop new prototype solutions. Dr. Ratwani, center director and scientific director at MedStar Health’s National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, is a leading expert in the study of usability and design of health information technology systems.

As technology usage in patient care grows, researchers continue their work to identify best practices for the use of health information systems and their effect on patient outcomes. This research seeks to better understand the flow of information among healthcare team members and how they use electronic medication administration records.

“Managing medications has become more complex,” said Dr. Ratwani, “and if health information technology is not designed, developed, and implemented to support clinicians in medication management patients may be harmed.”

The multidisciplinary research team includes Nancy Staggers, PhD, RN, FAAN; Jessica Howe, MS; Allan Fong, MS, and Katie Adams, BS; along with other physicians, nurses, human factors experts and data scientists, all of whom have extensive experience in health information technology systems and are focused on improving the functionality of these systems to increase patient safety. For this research, MedStar Health will collaborate with a patient safety organization and a health information technology systems vendor.

The research team will analyze a diverse set of nearly two million patient safety event reports to identify hazards and the needs of the full healthcare team who use this software. This analysis will produce a taxonomy of potential safety hazards in the electronic medication administration systems that vendors can apply to the development of new systems.

As part of the project, the team will design, develop, and test options to help facilitate a better flow of information among clinicians, using wireframes and prototypes to simulate potential solutions.

This funding continues the work of MedStar Health’s National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare in health information technology with 4 active R01 awards. Dr. Ratwani is currently the principal investigator on another AHRQ funded R01 focusing on improving usability and safety guidelines for health information technology. Kristen Miller, DrPH, CPPS, is the principal investigator on a National Library of Medicine R01 focused on effective clinical decision support development. Zach Hettinger, MD, MS, is the principal investigator on an AHRQ funded R01 focused on technology to support emergency department communication.


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 www.MedStarResearch.org. 

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 MedStarHealth.org.

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