Main content
Emory Profile
Tan Minh Tran: Motivated by a memory

Tan Minh Tran is assistant director for institutional research. Emory Photo/Video.

As assistant director for institutional research, Tan Minh Tran finds pleasure in painting a picture of the campus community through data.

In his role in the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness (OIRPE), Tran assesses an ever-changing landscape of demographics. His projects may be used to compare Emory to peer institutions, assist with accreditation, illustrate annual reports, or be employed by external benchmarking systems, such as U.S. News and World Report rankings.

Graduating from the Georgia Institute of Technology with his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering, Tran earned a Ph.D. in instructional technology from Georgia State University. He arrived at Emory in 1999 as a functional analyst for PeopleSoft Student Administration system and joined the OIRPE in 2008.

In his spare time, Tran and his brother, Dung Minh Tran, an application developer for Emory Healthcare, devote long hours to a passion that consumes their lives beyond the workplace.

Motivated by the memory of their father, Dr. Man Minh Tran, who received care through Emory Healthcare before his death, the siblings have spent their own time developing a Patient/Family Centered Portal, a website designed to provide ongoing education and communication with patients and families both during and after hospital care. They expect to begin testing the model at Emory's Center for Rehabilitative Medicine this summer:

How did your father's experience at Emory Hospital turn into a personal research project?

My father was trained as a medical doctor. He served the South Vietnamese government during the war as a chief medical officer for Saigon. He also had a philosophy which focused on giving back to help others. My family settled in Atlanta in 1981. In the latter months of his life, my father was hospitalized here at Emory University Hospital. After his discharge, my mom was his primary caregiver. One of the concerns at the point of discharge is that patients and family members may often not be presented with enough information. For example, if my mother would notice something was wrong when my father was home, her first inclination was to call the hospital and send him back to the ER. With enough education and training, we thought families could better understand some of the warning signs and know how to take care of their loved one at home. We hope that this research project can reduce hospital readmission rates and increase patient satisfaction.

How were you able to move forward with the idea?

We were fortunate to meet Dr. Michael M.E. Johns, who is chancellor of Emory University, and Dr. David Burke, the chair for the Center of Rehabilitative Medicine. They were willing to work with us and allow the free exchange of research ideas.

How would your model help patients and families?

Family members are often very concerned about the recovery and long-term wellbeing of their loved ones. While in the hospital, instead of just pacing around, not knowing what the next step will be, all this information can be presented in advance — a cookbook that they can learn from. That's a goal of this model, to collect information and present it to people ahead of time so they can start reading and educating themselves. It's also a way to gather comments and feedback from families. Our model allows continuous interaction.

If a patient is discharged from an Emory facility, they could be put in contact with a home health care company who, in our model, would also have access to the system in order to communicate with a patient and his family. Not only that, Emory Healthcare will be able to continue communication with the patient and their family members when they're at home. We want to create that continuous loop. When the hospital discharges somebody to go home, we want to make sure that there's information, or contact is being established with a patient.

Worst case? If a patient had to go back in the hospital, everything that's occurring in the home is recorded right there in the system, so the background will be collected. The key is the communication, what we call bi-directional communication.

You developed this model in honor of your father. Was he aware that you and your brother were researching this?

Yes, we actually began this discussion, along with Dr. Burke, at my father's bedside. My father was a very strong-minded and determined individual. He wanted to continue fighting to stay alive to see this project to fruition, because he wanted to see it not only turn into a living model, but also benefit other patients and families.

Where do you find the time?

Obviously it takes a lot of time. Sometimes my colleagues or friends wonder why I'm up at odd hours of the night. When my father was in the hospital, my brother and I would rotate to spend time at his bedside in the evenings and at night. We would usually get up at 3 in the morning to see the nurse check my father's vital signs. Because of that schedule, even after his passing, we're still accustomed it. Now, we're up early in the morning to continue our work.

Is it your hope to see this put in place at Emory and beyond?

I think our vision is to help benefit the community, and to us, benevolence knows no boundaries. If it benefits Emory, it has the potential to benefit other people. The situation my family was in — caring for a sick loved one —if you haven't encountered it before, you probably will.

Our parents, our close family members unfortunately will have a day when they need hospital care. We believe this model has potential in the new health care landscape because it strives to give people a voice. When you're in the hospital, there is lots of information exchanged and no systematic means to collect all of it in one place and present it in a concise, succinct manner.

This is the perfect context in which to experiment with a model like this because we are in a setting where the key, core goal is education. Why not expand that concept one additional step — the training and education of patients and families? You simply expand your community of learners.

Recent News