Storytelling, the Dramatic Arc and Empathy

In healthcare today, it is the stories we share–

  • …a save by a young resident physician
  • …the bravery of a young father to face countless experimental cancer treatments to spend one more Thanksgiving with his kids
  • …the strength of young mothers who repeatedly share their stories of loss to protect the children of others, or
  • …the ability of new technology to detect illness in time to preserve a life…

that move us to action–slowly in some instances, more quickly in others.

More and more, research is showing that stories designed with classic story structure have the power to move mountains–and us–by altering brain chemistry, and as a result, behavior. The following short video is a narrative version of such research, told by lead investigator and neuroeconomist, Paul Zak. As the story goes, Zak and his team created a narrative story about a young father struggling with his 2-year-old son’s cancer diagnosis. They also created a fact driven story as a control and recruited subjects to watch both types of story. They measured blood levels of oxytocin and cortisol in both groups and then asked both groups to donate money to charity once they had finished viewing the story. What the team found was that viewers who watched the narrative version of the story had higher levels of both oxytocin and cortisol, and donated a greater amount of money. What this tells me is that we are putty in the hands of a good storyteller—and that good movies should come with a warning similar to taking a sedating drug—don’t sign anything important for 24 hours after viewing!

 

What will you do with the empathy our healthcare stories evoke? Will you act on what you feel in 2014?


A Story for the Holiday Season

Sometimes, good storytelling needs only a few words–or none at all.

Thank you for reading — peace, love & joy.

Thanks to Apple for their creativity, heart and holiday spirit.


Dates Announced for 10th Annual Telluride Patient Safety Resident Summer Camps

Applications are now being accepted for the 2014 Telluride Patient Safety Resident Physician Summer Camps in Telluride, CO and Washington, DC

TPSSC_Logo_v3Resident physician leaders are now invited to apply to attend a week-long, immersive learning experience with leaders and educators in patient safety, along with patient and healthcare advocates at the 10th Annual Telluride Patient Safety Educational Roundtable and Resident Physician Summer Camps. Residency programs will be responsible for covering travel, lodging, and meeting registration fees for their attendees. MedStar Health, COPIC and CIR have been generous supporters of past Telluride Resident Summer Camps, and have sponsored many resident physician alumni, who are now change agents at their home institutions. We are again grateful for their support and participation in our 10th year!

The Telluride, CO and Washington, DC Patient Safety Resident Summer Camps are one-week, educational opportunities offering an in-depth exploration of current patient safety issues and risk reduction strategies for achieving optimal patient care. Two, one-week resident summer camps will be offered in 2014:

  • Monday, June 9th – Thursday June 13th, 2014 (to be held in Telluride, Colorado) — Arrive Sunday, June 8th for evening reception
  • Thursday, July 31st – Sunday August 3rd, 2014 (to be held in Washington, DC) — Arrive Wednesday, July 30th for evening reception

Over the last nine years, interprofessional leaders in patient safety, communication, informatics, human factors, patient advocacy and education have met in beautiful Telluride, CO to address patient safety issues. Because of the growing interest and number of resident applications, a second patient safety summer camp was added in Washington, DC in 2013.

The Telluride Roundtable Vision is to create an annual retreat where experts in patient safety come together with patients, residents and students in an informal setting to explore, develop and refine a culture of patient safety, transparency and optimal outcomes in patient care. The 2014 Patient Safety Summer Camps will again use an immersive, interactive format to examine ethical, professional, legal and economic issues around patient safety, transparency, disclosure and open and honest communication skills when medical errors and adverse events occur.

Applications and additional information can be found on the Telluride Patient Safety Summer Camp website (www.telluridesummercamp.com). Residency Programs interested in funding a resident to attend one of the patient safety summer camps will need to submit the following resident materials by March 1st, 2014:

  1. Two-page maximum CV
  2. Personal statement on your interest in patient safety and how attending the Patient Safety Summer Camp would benefit you
  3. Support letter from faculty or a mentor about your leadership and engagement in patient safety
  4. First and second choice for the summer camp weeks (Telluride CO or Washington DC)

Questions regarding the Patient Safety Resident Summer Camps can be directed to David Mayer, MD at: david.b.mayer@medstar.net

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Telluride Patient Safety Summer Camps Taking Applications for 2014

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Medical and Nursing Student scholarship applications are now being taken for the 2014 Patient Safety Summer Camps

Through the generous support of The Doctor’s Company Foundation and MedStar Health, scholarships are now available for 40 medical and 20 nursing student leaders to engage in an immersive experience with leaders, educators, and advocates in patient safety at the 10th Annual Telluride, CO and Washington, DC Patient Safety Educational Roundtable and Health Science Student Summer Camps. The student scholarships cover travel, lodging, meeting registration fees and many meals during the week.

Each of the Patient Safety Student Summer Camps are one-week, and offer an in-depth exploration of current patient safety issues and risk reduction strategies to achieve optimal patient care. Two, week-long student summer camps will be offered in 2014. Dates are:

  • Sunday June 15th – Wednesday June 18th, 2014 (to be held in Telluride, Colorado)
  • Tuesday July 29th – Friday August 1st, 2014 (to be held in Washington, DC)

Over the last nine years, interprofessional leaders in patient safety, communication, informatics, human factors, patient advocacy and education have met in beautiful Telluride, CO to address patient safety issues. Because of the growing interest and number of student applications, a second patient safety summer camp was added in Washington, DC in 2013.

The Telluride Roundtable Vision is to create an annual retreat where experts in patient safety come together with patients, residents and students in an informal setting to explore, develop and refine a culture of patient safety, transparency and optimal outcomes in patient care. The 2014 Patient Safety Summer Camps will again use an immersive, interactive format to examine ethical, professional, legal and economic issues around patient safety, transparency, disclosure, and open and honest communication skills when medical errors and adverse events occur.

Applications and additional information can be found on the Telluride Patient Safety Summer Camp website (www.telluridesummercamp.com). Students interested in applying will need to submit the following materials by February 14th, 2014:

  1. Two-page maximum CV
  2. Personal statement on your interest in patient safety and how attending the Patient Safety Summer Camp would benefit you
  3. Support letter from faculty or a mentor about your leadership and engagement in patient safety
  4. First and second choice for the summer camp weeks (Telluride, CO or Washington, DC)

Questions regarding the Patient Safety Summer Camps can be directed to:


The @DoctorsCompany Foundation Young Physicians #PatientSafety Award Now Taking Applications

IMG_7718Because so many of our readers are compassionate young physicians, and physicians-in-training, we wanted to share another opportunity for you to showcase that passion and commitment for keeping patients safe. The Doctors Company Foundation, an organization that also sponsors a number of medical student attendees to participate in our Telluride Student Summer Camps, is partnering with the Lucian Leape Institute at the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) to offer The Doctors Company Foundation Young Physicians Patient Safety Award. The award will recognize young physicians for “their deep personal insight into the significance of patient safety work.”

More information can be found, here on the NPSF website, or via The Doctors Company Foundation. A short summary follows:

Applicants are invited to submit essays that will be judged by a panel identified by NPSF. Six winners of this prestigious award will be selected and receive a $5,000 award, which will be presented at the Association of American Medical College’s (AAMC) Integrating Quality meeting in Chicago, June 12-13, 2014. Nominations must be submitted by 5:00pm ET, Monday Feb 3, 2014.

Eligibility:

  • As of June 2013, applicants must be either a 3rd or 4th year medical student or a 1st year resident in hospital setting
  • Award is for the best essay explaining your most instructional patient safety event during a clinical rotation-one that resulted in a personal transformation
  • Award will be conferred by The Doctors Company Foundation in partnership with the Lucian Leape Institute at AAMC’s Integrating Quality meeting in Chicago

For an example of this year’s winning essays, click here. Please contact us or visit the websites if you have questions! We know there are many Telluride Alumni deserving of an award like this so please enter, and share the patient-centered care you are working so hard to make standard of care. Good luck!


Bottled Water and Healthcare Fees

I have always been amazed by the apparent marketing brilliance of bottled water companies. If someone would have told me years ago I, and many others, would spend three dollars for a bottle of water – something we can all get free from our water faucets – I would have laughed and said they were crazy. Shows you what I know…

That same marketing brilliance came to mind last week while reading an article on the Harvard Business Review (HBR) Blog Network, Fix the Handful of US Hospitals Responsible for Out-of-Control Costs, regarding CMS payments to hospitals for in-patient procedures.  Using Medicare Provider Analysis and Review (MEDPAR) data published last spring by CMS, the authors applied a six sigma approach to identify hospitals that were three standard deviations from the average fee paid to hospitals for the most frequently performed 100 in-patient procedures.  Their findings forced me to stop and make sure I was reading their conclusions correctly. Their findings:

  1. Payments to hospitals whose accepted charges were above the national average for those 100 procedures added $5.3 billion dollars in excess cost to CMS.
  2. Two of the top 100 procedures accounted for more than 10% of the total costs – major joint replacement (6.1%) and septicemia (4.6%).  Major joint replacement payments varied between $9,000 – $39,000 per procedure and septicemia payments varied between $7,500 – $44,000 per treatment between hospitals.
  3. Less than 1% of the over 3,200 hospitals included in the data (32 hospitals) accounted for about 25% of that excess cost – over $1.25 billion dollars. By Six Sigma definition, what they were being paid was three standard deviations from the norm.

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How are they doing it, and perhaps a better question is, how are they justifying the difference? I understand and appreciate the issue always raised when data like these become public…”Our patients are sicker than everyone else’s patients” but 5-7 times sicker?

After reading the HBR post, I couldn’t help but stop and think that these 32 hospitals appear to make the bottled water marketing teams look like amateurs.