Vanguard Issue 001

Assarson_blond_and_Cheryl_Hughes_Tonic-medEach month MI2 highlights the work of an associate in the MedStar Health system who is advancing innovation. This month, our vanguard innovator is Joanne Assarsson, LICSW OSW-C at MedStar Georgetown.

Thanks to the Lombardi social work team, Joanne Assarsson, LICSW OSW-C, Cheryl Hughes LICSW OSW-C, Leonard Ellentuck, LICSW OSW-C, and clinical psychologist Dr. Kimberly Davis, MedStar Georgetown is one of the first hospitals in the country to screen cancer patients for distress using an iPad based tool.

“The catalyst for this work was the Commission on Cancer’s new standards for 2015, which require that cancer patients be screened for distress at least once during their treatment. Our goal was to find a way to adhere to the standards while working with a staffing ratio that would have made any paper & pencil effort (which is the norm around the country) impossible to successfully accomplish.”

Joanne inspired the choice of Tonic Health as the needed IT platform, with integration to the Georgetown EMR (Aria). Tonic uses patient engagement to create better data. It’s fun and user- friendly interface provides an engaging experience for patient data collection, translating into higher completion rates and better and more accurate data. Once Tonic was successfully in use at Georgetown, other use cases around the MedStar system were identified, and earlier this fiscal year, an enterprise deal was struck with Tonic.

As MedStar works to get rid of the clipboard, and screen patients for better outcomes, Joanne Assarsson and her social work colleagues deserve plaudits. As other hospital systems think about going paperless, leveraging the power of the iPad and ensuring that essential self-reported data from patients is made accessible in real time, MedStar is making it happen right now.