Patients and Care Teams: Working Together at MedStar Health

As healthcare providers, we are given a privilege to care for others, and must always remember that we treat complex individuals, making choices that affect their lives, families and personal well-being. At the same time, our patients must recognize that care providers are people too– always trying to do the best they can while juggling numerous responsibilities on a daily basis and working in a system that still has too many flaws. The clinician-patient relationship is most effective when both sides meet in the middle–a “safe space” where each is able to truly see one another and achieve the mutual understanding needed to succeed as a care team.

High Reliability science is one area we are looking to for answers to systems failures in healthcare. High reliability organizations stress the importance of “Stopping the Line” when a worker senses something doesn’t feel right. The concept has been shown to help reduce harm in many high risk environments. What if something similar existed for communication concerns in the healthcare environment?

The following short video, entitled Please See Me, created by patients and caregivers for patients and caregivers, offers a possible solution. Can “Please See Me” become that safe space, where patients and family members can stop the line and share those words if they feel their needs are not being heard or addressed? At the same time, can caregivers use the same phrase when they feel they are not being understood by patients and family members?

Many of us believe the phrase “Please See Me” can be the start of something special, creating that safe space and providing a phrase that helps improve communication and understanding in every healthcare environment leading to better outcomes.

Patients and Care Teams
Working as Partners
In the Spirit of Healing and Compassion

Role Models, Dedication and Driving Your Own Destiny

Whether or not Tiger Woods is deserving of being called a role model, the body of work he has accumulated is worthy of admiration, especially by younger players like Rory McIlroy. What caught my attention about yet another inspiring Nike commercial, wasn’t so much the role model himself, but the reminder that others are watching and learning from the actions of those put into a leadership position–regardless of how deserving.

In healthcare, as in sport, skills and technical acumen are only part of the equation, though often they can take many onto a stage and into the spotlight exposing behavior and character far less developed. Like McIlroy, those with talent coming up the ranks in sport can often drive their own destiny with dedication and committment. Athletes can stay a safer distance from those who have gone before them than young learners and junior healthcare professionals. But these young professionals too can drive their own destiny, and shape a new set of expectations for what success looks like in healthcare. Here’s a shout out to our Telluride Alum on this Friday!

*In the event the video is pulled, you can find it on YouTube — Nike Golf, Ripple

Taking Patient Engagement Into the Shark Tank

Shark Tank billionaire Mark Cuban weighed into the healthcare conversation last week and lit up the Twitterverse. While the topic–patient engagement and ownership of health data–has been growing in magnitude and number of influential players, to have a high-profile influencer like Cuban enter into the mix and accelerate the conversation is a bit of an unexpected (or perhaps calculated?) gift. For those who didn’t see Cuban’s three tweets that engaged @Eric_Topol, @charlesornstein, @danmunro and more, here is what started it all:

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We need more innovators with the resources of Mark Cuban to jump into the conversation around engaging patients in their health and changing healthcare for the better. To have those ready and willing to invest in validating the value of being empowered by owning our own data is priceless. Waiting for the traditional pathways to decide how we will do so is taking too long. With technology exploding around the ensconced world that is traditional medicine there are far too many viable options available. Theranos, created by Stanford dropout Elizabeth Holmes, is one such innovative company now said to be valued at $9B. Holmes is brilliant and is trying to democratize medicine — to make it affordable and less painful and scary for every person to have their blood drawn, and as a result, better understand their own health. My hunch is that Cuban has a stake in Theranos, and more power to them both. This is access to care and innovation without the roadblocks of the traditional route.

Funny how sometimes the house of cards built by information fall together. Dan Munro once again beat me to the punch on this topic, as we have been talking about patient engagement versus a patient’s responsibility versus commitment to one’s health for some time in our own healthcare circles. To watch the attention this topic has pulled from the power levels of business and healthcare via social media is both exciting and validating. Patients, however, still need to be invited into the conversation and Twitter feeds, and this may just prove to be the true value in having Cuban involved. His 2.8M Twitter followers were just pulled into a conversation rarely invited or influenced to engage in.

And finally, the debate over how often or why/why not to test your blood quarterly per Cuban’s suggestion is a curious one. I understand all too well the argument for overtreatment, as colleague and author of The Treatment Trap and Wall of Silence, Rosemary Gibson, speaks of it often. But is this the same overtreatment patients need to be wary of? The trip to the cath lab when medical management will do? The shoulder or back surgery when physical therapy may prove far better? Or worse, the criminals who prescribe chemotherapy for patients that do not really have cancer?

This truly is about something else altogether–something bigger and better. This is a reminder that our world is changing quickly, and with it, our ability to know more about our bodies and our health is too. That knowledge truly is power, and why should care providers be the only ones holding the deck? When patients are engaged in their health, the research so important to those opposing Cuban’s advice shows all have better outcomes. As Cuban explains in a recent Health Care Blog conversation, he has been engaging in his own health for some time:

…What I do know is that I’m in firmer control of my day to day health…there is value when I review my results annually with my doctor , having the last 3 results to compare to. Now that I have a history of data looking at the results isnt stressful. Its the opposite. Its comforting.

And I feel far more confident that if and when I get sick, having those numbers will make me and my doctor smarter in our decision making process.

I know that healthcare needs more Mark Cubans. So much so, that while I thought Shark Tank to be a somewhat intriguing TV concept before, I am even more inclined to watch knowing he is engaging not only in his own health so thoughtfully, but also because he may be keeping an eye out for the next Theranos.

Stay tuned to ETY as we continue to elevate the conversation around patient engagement, patient and care team partnerships and more in the coming weeks. Please share your thoughts!