The Telluride Experience 2015: Now Taking Applications

Sunlight_over_mtnsNot sure how late summer and fall flew by so fast, but it is already November, and we are now taking applications for our 2015 Telluride Summer Camp sessions!

Step up and become one of our Telluride Patient Safety Champion Alumni–over 500 strong– by applying to spend one of FIVE weeks immersed in learning and discussions on how to become a patient safety leader. This coming summer, there will be three locations for medical students and advanced practice nurses, and two locations for resident physicians.

Because of the tremendous success we have seen through the years, and as a result of our continued growth both nationally and internationally, the Telluride Patient Safety Summer Camps will take on a new look and name beginning in 2015, but the spirit in which the patient safety intensive workshops will operate will not change. The newly anointed (chosen by our Telluride Alumni Scholars) “Academy for Emerging Leaders in Patient Safety: The Telluride Experience,” will continue to gather patient safety leaders from around the world, along with patient advocates and industry leaders to discuss issues related to the open, honest communication and patient-centered healthcare, both critically needed to produce the highest quality. safest care possible.

Once again, we will be taking applications online (click here) and the deadline for 2015 sessions is January 15, 2015. On the website you will also soon find familiar faces, starring in a new, mini-documentary on the Telluride Experience.

Telluride Alumni continue to create change at their home institutions, and inspire their colleagues.  The following reflection was shared by a Telluride Scholar at the end of her first day at one of last year’s sessions. It is messages like this that reinforce how important the work being done in Telluride has been, and will continue to be through the Academy. And it is most definitely a two-way exchange of inspiration. Many of us have similar days and weeks of frustration and despair, feeling the changes so badly needed aren’t happening fast enough. Our faculty also leave “recharged” after seeing and feeling the passion and commitment these future healthcare leaders have for achieving safe, high quality patient care. Please consider joining us in 2015!

From a Telluride Scholar, 2014:

“As of late, I have felt uninspired and more bewildered by the apathy and active discouragement by my superiors almost reprimanding me for doing the right thing for my patients. After meeting the Telluride faculty at this meeting, I am beginning to feel empowered again to be a conduit of change.”

“So often at work I am so disheartened by what I see and do when it comes to patient safety and quality of care, and I am usually too tired and pessimistic to do anything but complain. I now have renewed energy and commitment to making things better. I also now have some tools and support and I’m again excited for the next two years of residency.”

“Thank you so much for this amazing week. After the hardest year of my residency as well as my personal life, this conference has re-inspired me at a time when I was starting to feel exhausted by work and alone in the system. Just a few days before I arrived in Telluride, a faculty member told me to ‘stop pushing and coming up with ideas because you don’t understand how things work here’. This was greatly upsetting and discouraging as I actually consider this person a mentor and a progressive thinker. Although this really upset me, I am so fortunate that I got to attend this conference…I learned that I certainly am not alone and will not stop pushing.”

Disney and Pixar Understand Patient-Centered Care

If there is any way to get John Lasseter and leadership from Disney or Pixar involved in developing healthcare of the future, I think we might want to consider recruiting their team. Big Hero 6 opened November 7th and led box office sales with $56M in tickets sold its first weekend, adding another $36M this past weekend. Urged on by a seven-year-old who is in the process of developing edible electricity to make dogs talk, my family purchased six of those tickets. Four adults and two kids spent Saturday evening just how Walt Disney intended us to:  at the movies!

Both Disney and Pixar have mastered the art of entertaining kids and adults with their stories, and lovable, life-like, animated characters. In Big Hero 6, it is the personal healthcare robot, Baymax, and fourteen-year-old orphan genius, Hiro, who steal the show. Baymax comes to life when he hears the word, “Ouch!” Breaking free of his 2′ x 2′ storage cube and inflating to StayPuff marshmallow form, he then waddles comically over to whoever he perceives may need his pre-programmed healthcare expertise.

“On a scale of one to ten, rate your pain,” says Baymax, as the visual pain scale lights up across his large, puffy chest also serving as a monitor for patients to view any medical findings. Baymax then scans his patient from head to toe, assessing location of injury or type of illness, and proceeds to prescribe proper treatment from a database full of disease information.

The kicker? To make Baymax deflate and return to recharge in his storage cube, his patient must first say, “I am satisfied with my care.” Wow! Go Pixar!



HPI Safety Summit: Communication Key Component of High Reliability Journey

The cab driver that took me to the Cincinnati airport as I left the HPI Safety Summit last week was from Ethiopia. He had made a point to say “east Africa” when I asked where he was from, as the Ebola virus had greater than average attention in the Queen City due to one of the two nurses who contracted the virus having recently passed through northern Ohio. Even though she never came any closer to Cincinnati than almost 250 miles away, almost every cab driver encountered during our stay mentioned Ebola. This gentleman, in broken but completely intelligible English, shared that he had been in Cincinnati for nine years, and was lamenting the fact that his accent remained far too apparent while his young children now spoke perfect English. Our conversation continued on the beauty of different cultures and their languages, and he told me 80 different languages are spoken in his small country of origin. A quick Google search confirmed this, as well as that anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 different languages are spoken across the African continent. It dawned on me that the magnitude of such disparate means of communication might not only contribute to a lack of understanding, but with it, the slow-moving development experienced across Africa on the whole. He agreed, which led to an impassioned explanation on how the inability to communicate in a common language leads to a lack of trust among clans, violence and often the need to hire a translator just to travel from the north to the south of Ethiopia. I told him he had inspired an ETY post, as it is becoming increasingly clear that data and fact lose almost every time to fear, ignorance, poor communication and a good old-fashioned wives’ tale spun by a convincing storyteller.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 6.21.23 AMCommunication was one of the overriding themes at the Safety Summit as well. HPI is endeavoring to make the language of patient safety universal across healthcare by providing consistent, process-driven training that gives healthcare professionals a vocabulary in high reliability, resilience and a systems approach to care. The number of partnerships HPI has formed with healthcare organizations across the US seeking to join the high reliability journey is growing, and with it, so follows the number of patient lives positively impacted by those employing their teachings at the frontlines of care. Their teaching excels in parallel with a clients’ ability to communicate the learning, and the session my colleague Erin Agelakopolous and I presented on the topic was standing room only. With newer clients in attendance at this year’s Safety Summit, there were many who wanted to understand how we were communicating the HPI learning across a health system of 30,000. We shared the tool kit designed by MedStar’s Communications team, our 60 Seconds for Safety videos, patient and provider stories, and a Good Catch program recognizing the excellent work at our frontlines while reinforcing the learning culture HROs need to thrive. And we shared that this has indeed been a journey—with our internal communications efforts growing in tandem with a collective comfort level in the new just culture tenets being increasingly embraced.

There were many excellent sessions at HPI’s Safety Summit. Of particular note was the keynote given by nationally recognized patient advocate, DePaul University Professor, Mom, MBA and former McKinsey consultant, Beth Daley Ullem. Beth emphasized the need for healthcare consumers to have access to data and information about the healthcare procedures they are purchasing. “We spend more time evaluating the purchase of mutual funds,” she said, “than heart surgeries.” Having lost a child to preventable medical harm directly related to the culture of medicine, Beth and her approach to this work, provided yet another inspirational reminder that we need a greater sense of urgency around the change we were all in Cincinnati to support.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia shared their Good Catch program in a session. Cancer Treatment Center’s of America shared their HRO internal communication campaign and Safety Superheroes. Piedmont Healthcare shared how they are trying to communicate taking transparency to the next level. All expressed how important it is to find ways to communicate HPIs high reliability teachings and culture change across the health system. Being at the Summit was spending time with those already drinking the Kool-Aid of culture change. With all the social media and content development tools available to us, we now need to figure out how to take this excellent work along with the messages of just culture, transparency and open, honest communication in healthcare viral–

For more information on HPI and the Safety Summit, go to:

Telluride Alumni and Faculty Continue to Leave Their Mark on Healthcare

As the Telluride Patient Safety Summer Camps prepare to expand in 2015, adding a third session for health science students to be held in Napa, CA (and fifth summer camp week overall when we include the two weeks for resident physicians) , our alumni continue to leave a lasting mark on healthcare. Most recently, Jennifer Loeb MD, former Telluride alum and now an internal medicine resident at the University of Illinois Hospital, published her thoughts in Hospital Impact, on how the need to provide patient-centric care drives her work at the bedside. She writes:

For me, safe patient care is more than adherence to checklists and standard operating protocols. It is a consequence of an approach to treating patients that’s characterized by applying medical evidence in a patient-centric way, by ensuring that compassion enters into care decisions and by listening with purpose to a patient’s articulated needs and, often helping them identify what those needs may be. I look forward to becoming a caregiver who can bring those attributes to my patient interactions…To say that I have evolved over many years to this point may be true, but it took a personal family challenge for me to truly appreciate all that it takes to achieve safe care. It’s not easy, it’s not one thing, it’s not just being careful or diligent — rather, it’s the way we deliver care, it’s how we see our role as part of a healing process, it’s how we put “care” into the word”caregiver.”…click here to read entire article

WineWisdom_Paul_Lauren_Shelly_Resident physicians from MedStar Health and medical students from Georgetown University SOM each held gatherings of their own local Quality and Patient Safety Councils inspired by leaders who spent time in Telluride as well. The MedStar Resident QIPS Council, co-founded by alumni Shabnam Hafiz, MD, and Stephanie Wappel, MD, has grown to over 40 members and is focused on inspiring the change needed to make care safer and of the highest quality. The QIPS Council sponsored its first educational event in September at The French Embassy in Washington DC, led by QIPS Council member (and also a Telluride alumni) Lauren Lobaugh, MD, QIPS Education Committee Chair. The event, entitled “Wine and Wisdom,” was standing room only, and the guest speaker was nationally recognized safety expert (and Telluride faculty–there’s a theme here…), Paul Levy, who spoke about “the art of persuasion”.  Guests from all over the region (Univ. of Maryland, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Johns Hopkins, INOVA, Walter Reed, and more) were invited to join the Council for a cocktail hour, lecture, and small group discussions about where we are today, and where we see our healthcare communities going in the future. The event also piqued the interest of local news outlets, and a story ran in the Washington Business Journal in September. Lobaugh was quoted in the article as below, and the rest of the story can be found here:

Making a mistake that harms a patient can be shattering for a doctor, said organizer Dr. Lauren Lobaugh, a fourth-year resident in MedStar Georgetown Hospital’s anesthesiology department. Over the summer, she headed to a patient safety boot camp held in Telluride, Colorado, and said she was impacted by the idea of “caring for the caregiver” instead of “shaming and blaming” them when an error is made.

And finally, recently asked us to comment on their blog about how our patient advocates contribute to the Telluride Experience. Our patient advocates, and their stories, are such an integral piece of the Telluride Experience, it is hard to imagine the workshops without the depth of their contributions. From the post:

The Power of Storytelling
The power of stories is called upon regularly during the Telluride Experience.  Patient and healthcare advocates continue to return as Telluride faculty to share their stories—stories that leave a lasting imprint on the hearts and minds of the alumni and faculty audience…The films are a foundational piece of the TPSSC curriculum, and in each session, they stimulate emotional conversations around what was missed, how to avoid future similar harm, and the hidden curriculum of medicine…

The Human Side of Medicine
When Helen or the Skolniks lead the group conversation after the film, an additional element is added to the learning. Young medical students who have yet to even see this side of medicine are exposed in vivo to the impact their future decisions will have on the kind, loving people before them. The patient becomes more than a procedure, and the audience realizes first-hand just how human both patients and healthcare professionals are. Time and time again, we have seen how these stories change people in the moment…
For more, go to

Applications for the 2015 Telluride Patient Safety Summer Camps will soon be announced open. Thanks once again to the generous and continued support of our sponsors–The Doctors Company Foundation, COPIC, and CIR–our patient safety army continues to gain reinforcements in hospitals and in medical/nursing schools across the country with now over 400 alumni scholars making patient safety contagious. For more information, go to