MedStar Health Emergency Department Internal Innovation Challenge

Page first published: 10/10/19
Page last updated: 07/01/21

Status: Concluded


MedStar Health hospitals have received more than 450,000 ED visits in a year, according to fiscal year 2018 data.

Two questions were at the heart of the MedStar Health Emergency Department Internal Innovation Challenge: 

  • How might we catalyze innovation energy within and among a diverse group of MedStar Health ED associates?

  • What ideas might those associates have to (innovatively) improve the ED experience for patients and staff across our system—regardless of their job in the department?

MedStar Emergency Physicians co-sponsored the Challenge with the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2), MedStar Risk Management, and MedStar Nursing, selecting two team submissions for implementation.


In March 2019, the Challenge invited MedStar associates whose main job responsibilities focus on the ED—including nurses, physicians, advanced practice clinicians, techs, security, social workers, and support staff—to submit ideas individually or in teams that would improve care.

More than 50 ideas were submitted online, summarizing the problem, solution, value proposition, metrics, and barriers. The Challenge Steering Committee then identified 25 semifinalists for inclusion in a process that crowdsourced finalist selection to all ED staff. Via an online survey, each ED associate could cast up to 10 votes for the ideas they thought had the greatest potential; nearly 1,500 votes identified eight finalists. 

In April 2019, seven finalists each presented a 4-minute pitch of their idea followed by a 4-minute Q&A to a panel of judges and other attendees at the MedStar Innovation and Design (MIND) Lab.


The judges selected two winners:

  • Pictured from left to right: Challenge Steering Committee member Kevin Maloy with finalists Carolyn Phillips and Michael Yacovelli

    It’s 2019, and we read a medical record number (MRN) on the phone to admit a patient? A hospitalist communication system for admissions
    Carolyn Phillips and Michael Yacovelli; MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital; Emergency medicine resident and attending physician team

    When ED providers seek to admit their patients into the hospital, they communicate with the hospitalist team: a group of internal medicine providers who care for patients solely while they are in the hospital. Despite electronic health record (EHR) and text messaging technology, however, the current process requires ED providers to page the admitting hospitalist without any information about why they are paging. Basic patient information (e.g., patient name, MRN, medical history, presenting chief complaint, and pertinent lab) that is already available in the EHR must be communicated over the phone. This idea envisions leveraging technology that facilitates communication between hospitalists and the ED providers—so the hospitalists can better review cases before responding to ED providers. The team is exploring the short- and long-term technology and workflow solutions, including use of pre-existing EHR orders for hospitalist consults, automatic messages to hospitalists to flag these consults, and an integrated mobile secure messaging app.


  • Pictured from left to right: Challenge finalists Munish Goyal, John Brickley, and Lindsay Batson

    Less PercoceT and more PT: The MedStar Health Urgent Physical Therapy Program
    Munish Goyal, John Brickley, Lindsay Batson, and Liz Delasobera; MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, and MedStar Health Urgent Care; Physician and physical therapist team

    Patients commonly turn to EDs and Urgent Care sites for management of their soft tissue injuries (e.g., ankle sprains). They are often prescribed pain medications and advised to follow up with their primary care doctor, orthopedist, or podiatrist for an appointment at a later date. Alternatively, this winning idea proposes that emergency providers prescribe early physical therapy, which optimally includes an appointment within a day, to strive for benefits such as reduced inflammation, targeted strengthening, neuromuscular re-education, reduced pain, less medication (including opiate) use, and faster and safer return to function. However, it’s difficult for many emergency providers to make a warm handoff to a physical therapist due to access issues and uncertainty with insurance requirements. The team proposes building a seamless, comprehensive system to ensure quick patient access to physical therapy. The solution includes providers placing an order for physical therapy in the EHR and the ability to send one email to MedStar central scheduling to manage the one-day referral and insurance needs. The team also envisions working with MI2’s MedStar Telehealth Innovation Center to ensure a telehealth physiatry visit, with the physical therapist mediating that telehealth appointment between the patient and physiatrist.

July 2021 Update

The Challenge was successful in catalyzing innovation energy, which led to solutions and prototypes that continued to improve the experience of patients and providers across MedStar Health.

As an example, the MedStar Health Urgent Physical Therapy program gained visibility and traction thanks in part to the project’s Challenge win. A related order has been integrated into the system’s electronic health record so that providers can schedule an urgent physical therapy appointment for a patient directly from an emergency department or urgent care location, usually within 72 hours. As of June 2021, the program had reached an estimated 6,944 patients in partnership with teams at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, MedStar Harbor Hospital, and all MedStar Health Urgent Care locations seeking to rapidly schedule urgent physical therapy appointments for their patients. The program has an average schedule rate of 20%, which is increasing.

Building on the success of the first Challenge, the team hopes to host another Challenge in 2022 as recovery from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic continues.



MedStar Inventor Services

Old Invention Disclosure Form

Invention Disclosure Form

  • Section Break

  • Invention Details

  • The following questions apply to Healthcare Information Technology (HIT) Inventions (e.g. software, websites, mobile apps) only and are optional.
  • As part of the Commercialization process your invention will be reviewed by a group of peer providers (Peer Review Committee). Please select one or two Peer Review Committees that are most relevant to provide clinical and technical feedback on your invention.
  • MedStar Health is required to report government funded inventions to relevant funding agencies and provide a confidential copy of the disclosure. If an invention is made using industry or foundation funds, we are obligated to report such inventions to the sponsor, in accordance with the associated research grant/contract. Please identify any financial sponsors of the invention, as well as the relevant grant/contract numbers. Include institutional or department funding.

Think Differently

  • MedStar Innovation and Design (MIND) Lab
  • MI2 Forum
  • Concepts That Count
  • Good Reads

Our Work

Four Pillars

Program Themes

Four fellows

Health for America (HFA) at MedStar Health’s rigorous curriculum was designed to help fellows develop actionable skills and knowledge across the following four program pillars:

HFA provides insights into the uniquely complicated, highly regulated healthcare ecosystem, which requires innovators to navigate complex business models, a multitude of stakeholders, and clinical validation.

HFA fellows learn how to leverage design thinking techniques (e.g., shadowing, simulation) to build solutions “with and not for” end users, incorporating their input and improving care outcomes.

HFA offers training in lean startup principles and other creative techniques that are essential to innovating in highly complex care delivery systems.

HFA facilitates the development of individual leadership skills, provides a toolkit to develop and achieve goals, and assists fellows in creating a compelling personal brand.

Three Phases

Program Timeline

Health for America (HFA) at MedStar Health's learning is organized into three phases, enabling fellows to prioritize deep dives into select content and report on their progress at meaningful milestones in the fellowship.

Shadowing, interviews, simulation, and continuous research are signature activities of this phase, which culminates in the creation of a landscape analysis report. The report distills key lessons about the domain, relevant companies, and areas of need/opportunity, shaping the fellows’ transition into the ideation phase.

This phase invites brainstorming, testing, and iterating top solution ideas, all while gathering and integrating stakeholder feedback. It concludes with an ideation report summarizing key activities and lessons from the fellows’ work on their top ideas, and identifying the solution each fellow will implement for the remainder of the program.

Fellows refine solutions into more polished prototypes during the implementation phase and work with internal and/or external partners to develop plans for sustaining this work. The final portfolio showcases their process and outcomes.

Health for America phases

Fellows and Leaders

Our Team

The Health for America (HFA) at MedStar Health team advancing the program from September 2017-July 2018 includes the following fellows, physician and executive mentors, and leaders. A snapshot of their Health for America roles is featured here, with more information about their professional background below.


Physician, Executive and Other Domain Mentors



Renee Kakareka

Renee Kakareka
2017-18 Fellow

Renee aspires to integrate her diverse experience in design, entrepreneurship, and engineering to advance healthcare innovation. She graduated with honors from Philadelphia University with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design and a concentration in Global Portfolio, an academic experience that helps students pursue global opportunities in their profession. Renee’s thesis project in assistive technology fueled her interest in health care. She leveraged her background in sign language to develop a device that locates sound and captions voices to improve accessible communication, ultimately inspiring her to build a startup and license the technology. For her Global Portfolio, she researched and developed projects to improve developing countries’ access to better health care and health technology. Additionally, she completed a research paper on biomedical materials for targeted drug release through her biomedical technology studies. Many injuries as a collegiate softball player, including a concussion, led to Renee’s interest in neuroscience and recent yoga teacher certification. Renee is excited to combine these passions and her understanding of design thinking to explore new applications in integrative medicine.

Sharon Rodriguez

Sharon Rodriguez
2017-18 Fellow

Sharon is a data-centered healthcare advocate with an interest in innovative care delivery models, multi-sector partnerships, and health policy. In May 2015, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management from The Ohio State University. While in college, she interned in a variety of healthcare settings and community organizations, including the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bluegrass, UK Healthcare, Sutter Health, and OSU Wexner Medical Center. These experiences gave her a first-hand view of the positive impact innovative care delivery models and hospital-community partnerships can have on health outcomes, patient care coordination, and patient experience. In May 2017 she earned a master’s degree in Health Administration at the University of Kentucky. During this time, she focused her public health research on understanding the socio-ecological factors contributing to Kentucky’s high rates of cancer. She illustrated the decisive role health policy plays in reducing the burden of diseases such as cancer, which sparked her interest in health policy. She looks forward to building upon these diverse experiences through a prestigious health innovation fellowship.

Ethan Booker

Dr. Ethan Booker
Director of Operations Improvement, Department of Emergency Medicine at MedStar Washington Hospital Center

Dr. Booker is a board-certified emergency physician leading operations, educating residents and students, and providing clinical care in MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s Emergency Department (ED). Dr. Booker is also an Assistant Medical Director with MedStar Transport, which links a communications center, ground assets, and four helicopters to provide critical care transport throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Additionally, he developed and now oversees a telehealth service for advanced ED intake and emergency consultation with the MedStar Institute for Innovation. Dr. Booker completed undergrad and medical degrees at University of Michigan, and emergency medicine training at University of Chicago. He joined MedStar in 2005.

Paul Plsek

Paul Plsek
Innovator-in-Residence at MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2)

Paul is a recognized advisor on leadership, innovation, creativity and change management in complex systems. He serves as the Mark Hutcheson Chair of Innovation at the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Founding Director of the Academy for Large-Scale Change for the National Health Service in the UK, and Senior Visiting Fellow on Complexity and Innovation at Ko Awatea in Auckland, New Zealand. He is an Innovator-In-Residence at MI2, where he is developing online training in creativity, innovation and complex systems, and advising on several healthcare service delivery projects. Paul holds degrees in systems engineering from Texas A&M University and the Polytechnic Institute of New York. His latest book is Accelerating Health Care Transformation with Lean and Innovation: The Virginia Mason Experience.

Emily Ratner

Dr. Emily Ratner
Founding Medical Director of the MedStar Health Center for Integrative Medicine and Director of Integrative Medicine Initiatives at MI2

Dr. Ratner is passionate about providing patient centered care, focusing on whole-person health, including mind, body and spirit. Her clinical services include Integrative Medicine consultation and Medical Acupuncture. She was a Stanford Medical School faculty member for 23 years, where she originally trained in anesthesiology before training in integrative medicine, medical acupuncture, mind-body medicine and mindfulness-based stress reduction. She was founding co-director of Stanford's Division of Medical Acupuncture and enjoyed a robust clinical practice at Stanford's Center for Integrative Medicine, where she treated patients with complex medical conditions, prior to relocating to the east coast in 2014.

Bill Sheahan

Bill Sheahan
Corporate Vice President, MedStar Health and Director, MedStar Simulation Training & Education Lab (MedStar SiTEL)

Bill Sheahan is a Corporate Vice President for MedStar Health, Director of the MedStar Simulation, Training and Education Laboratory (SiTEL), and Co-Director of the MedStar Telehealth Innovation Center. As such, Bill oversees strategy and execution for learning and telehealth infrastructure across the system. Before joining MedStar Health in 2013, Bill spent three years leading an academic research program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. Previously, Bill had a decorated 15-year career as a paramedic, educator and emergency medical services leader, culminating with nine years leading a county government-based emergency services organization in New York. Bill holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and is currently completing a PhD in education from the University of Rochester.

Jeff Collins

Jeff Collins
Administrative Director & Director of External Alliances at MI2

Jeff directs the day-to-day operations of MI2 and ensures the execution of MI2's strategic vision and operational priorities in conjunction with MedStar Health and MI2 leadership. In addition, he oversees MI2’s portfolio of External Alliances, including the Global Healthcare Innovations Alliance founded with Cleveland Clinic, a Founding Partnership with 1776, a global incubator and seed fund in DC, the Innovation Learning Network, the Health for America at MedStar Health program, and AARP's Project Catalyst. He has a Master of Health Science, Health Finance and Management degree from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and BA from Emory University. Learn more here.

Mandy Dorn

Mandy Dorn
Director, Health for America at MI2

As the Director of Health for America at MI2, Mandy oversees the fellows' work and the daily operations of HFA, while advancing broader external alliance efforts. She has diverse experience delivering results in corporate, agency, entrepreneurial, and nonprofit environments. Her areas of expertise include program/alliance management, talent development, public/media relations, executive/program positioning, public affairs, and corporate communications. Mandy began her career completing the Orr Fellowship and personally experienced how innovative fellowship programs empower, connect, educate, inspire, and differentiate young professionals. Mandy earned a BA in Communication from Purdue University and was inducted into The Phi Beta Kappa Society.

Leatt Gilboa

Leatt Gilboa
Manager of Telehealth Strategy and Operations at MI2

Leatt serves as Manager of Telehealth Strategy and Operations for the MedStar Telehealth Innovation Center at MI2. In this role she works to strategize, coordinate, and implement MedStar’s virtual care offerings. Prior to this role, Leatt’s project management experience offered access to various aspects of health care including telehealth, medical devices, integrative medicine, data and the clinical environment, research, and external alliances. Leatt completed her MA in Health Administration from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and her BA in Biology and Anthropology from New York University.

Sandrine Lambletin

Sandrine Lambletin
Project Coordinator at MI2

Seven years in health care, Sandrine serves as the Project Coordinator for the Influence Center and Integrative Medicine teams at MI2. Prior to her role at MI2, Sandrine worked in Human Resources at MedStar Washington Hospital Center for five years. Sandrine also worked at MedStar SiTEL, where she had a broad administrative role working on different projects which included the social media relaunch, the CSA program with Big White Barn, and MedStar Healthy partnerships. Sandrine has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Management.

John Lock

John Lock
Entrepreneur-in-Residence at MI2

John has nearly 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, investor, and proven strategic operator. He founded, managed, and realized the value of companies in diverse industries like insurance, human capital management, education/training, rights licensing, online music videos, and mortgage servicing. He has led organizations ranging in size from startup to revenues of more than $2BN. More recently, John served as the Chairman of Kaplan’s New Business Initiatives Board, President and CEO of Kaplan Performance Solutions (KPS), and Market Leader of Kaplan’s global B2B efforts. John graduated magna cum laude from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service with a B.S. in Foreign Service and is a recipient of the Landegger Honors Certificate in International Business Diplomacy.

Amanda Newman

Amanda Newman
Strategic Advisor, HFA Alumna

An alum of the fellowship now serving as a strategic advisor to MI2/HFA, Amanda supported the evolution of WellRooted into MedStar Healthy for MedStar. She also contributes to the daily operations of HFA. Previously, Amanda worked as an artist, facilitator, and communications coordinator at Dance Exchange in the Washington, D.C., region. She graduated with a BFA in Modern Dance from the University of Utah where she also founded a community health program to support under-resourced populations. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Social Work at Hunter College in New York City.

Mark Smith

Dr. Mark Smith
Chief Innovation Officer of MedStar Health and Director of MI2

Dr. Smith leads a system-wide initiative to create a vibrant innovation ecosystem that advances health and transforms care. The mission of MI2 is to catalyze innovation that advances health. Prior to his appointment as Director of MI2, Dr. Smith served as chair of the department of emergency medicine at MedStar Washington Hospital Center for 14 years and as founding chair of MedStar Emergency Physicians. Dr. Smith is also professor of emergency medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. He has an MD from Yale University, MS in Computer Science from Stanford University, and BA from Swarthmore College. Learn more here.

Madhura Bhat

Madhura Bhat

Madhura uses her broad expertise and global perspective to craft rich, fulfilling, immersive leadership experiences. In founding Health for America (HFA), she realized her vision for creating a powerful personal and professional growth opportunity to attract the best and brightest to work on health. Over the last decade, Madhura has worked with global brands, Fortune 500 companies, UN agencies, and NGOs to maximize the impact of their investments. Madhura is an alumna of the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship and a recipient of the SXSW Dewey Winburne Award, the Global Good Fund Fellowship and a winner of the Case Foundation Finding Fearless competition. Madhura holds an MBA, an MPH, and an MA in Communications.

Kapil Parakh

Kapil Parakh

Kapil is a cardiologist who uses technology innovation to improve health outcomes. He helped found HFA to accelerate the pace of health innovation while molding the next generation of leaders. Currently at Google, he leads efforts on improving the search experience around health. Kapil also served as a White House Fellow from 2013-2014 at the Department of Veterans Affairs and prior to that, he led an innovative, community-based heart failure program at Johns Hopkins. Active in clinical research, Kapil has presented at numerous scientific conferences and authored over thirty papers. Board certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiology and Advanced Heart Failure, Kapil holds an MD, MPH, and PhD.

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