med-star-health-logoMedStar Health is the largest healthcare system in the mid-Atlantic region, made up of ten hospitals in the Maryland and Washington, DC, area, including MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, and MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. With more than 30,000 associates, MedStar is also one of the region’s largest employers, which also includes a robust graduate medical education program with over 1,000 resident physicians and fellows.


The Need

To spread the word across a large health system about the high reliability journey all associates were about to embark upon. New concepts would need to be taught, as well as excitement created around adoption of high reliability principles. This also included an increased awareness around all aspects of patient safety, as well as a concerted effort in making patient safety the health system’s number one priority. Moving all 30,000 associates to a new way of ‘business as usual’ would take creativity and multiple modes of communication.


The Project

Create fifty-two weekly, sixty-second videos highlighting quick facts about high reliability organizations and patient safety concepts. Each video was to be educational, entertaining and convey information about a key piece of related learning the health system was teaching incrementally to leadership, administration and frontline healthcare professional. The video library was to be designed so that it could be reused as necessary to reinforce topics of import.


The Campaign

To date, thirty-nine videos have been created, covering high reliability foundational concepts such as mindfulness, just culture and Weick and Sutcliffe’s five foundational principles of high reliability organizations that include a Reluctance to Simplify and a Preoccupation with Failure. Topics specific to MedStar’s safety and quality educational needs and programs, including content as diverse as procedural Time Outs and Universal Protocol to storytelling, have been created as desired, and distributed across the health system via a weekly email. The weekly email also includes a “Good Catch” story from the frontlines, reinforcing the learning contained in both.

The sixty-second videos have been included in the mailings every two to three weeks during the development phase, but will become weekly once the library is complete. Each video was also created in compliance with corporate branding guidelines, and in tandem with the overarching high reliability campaign.


The Results

The weekly mailings began with a list of approximately thirty MedStar leaders, and have now grown to almost 2,000 associates. In addition to being distributed throughout the health system to reinforce learning contained in HRO Tool Kits, the videos have also been shared with colleagues at the American Hospital Association and the National Institutes of Health. The video modality of communicating the HRO learning and patient safety topics has proven useful not only for reinforcement of key learning material on a bi-weekly basis, but also for inclusion in presentations to leadership and learners. Future distribution methods being explored include video-to-text as a means to further the reach of this unique learning tool.


60 Seconds for Safety: Just Culture

Dave Mayer MD, vice president for Quality and Patient Safety, shares the need for a just culture as the basis for all we do at MedStar Health.