Medical Student Speaks Up Under Influence of Telluride Mentors

Over the course of history, many young entrepreneurs have changed the world. Be it in the technology arena like Bill Gates, the social media world like Mark Zuckerberg or the newest Nobel Peace Prize co-winner, Malala Yousafzai–real change has been created by young leaders who envisioned a better way. These creative thinking young entrepreneurs are also leading change in healthcare. While their vision and action as patient safety advocates and role models may not send financial ripples across Wall Street, or redefine how we communicate with one another just yet, their efforts will save patient lives.

Over the last two years, ETY followers have read many stories about quality and safety projects being led by resident physician and health science student entrepreneurs, many Telluride Patient Safety Scholars and alumni. The attached video highlights another example of these young leaders in action, role-modeling the use of resilience tools that will make care safer for our patients. Daliha Aqbal, Telluride alumna and a medical student at the Georgetown School of Medicine, role models two resilience tools to over 300 faculty caregivers–the use of Safety Moments, and an example of “Stopping the Line” to validate and verify information when something doesn’t feel right. While many of these young leaders may not win a Nobel Peace Prize, they are truly helping change our safety culture as they lead by example.


Teamwork + #SXSW + #Minecraft + #Healthcare = Sum Greater Than Parts

There is a call in healthcare for all stakeholders to move toward a culture where team-based care is the norm. Where patients are welcomed into the care team as equal partners, moving away from the traditional, hierarchical approach. To make this shift, new skills will need to be embraced by those accustomed to old ways of delivering care. Many of the younger learners, in medicine and elsewhere, are great resources to turn to as role models for these team-based skills, as their play environments have proven to be wonderful training grounds for the same. For example, teamwork is thriving in video gaming environments — environments that may seem an unconventional place for medical training, but are proving to hold promise for more than just acquisition of surgical skills.

It was this knowledge I carried while attending SXSW in Austin, TX two weeks ago, during which I had the pleasure of sitting in on the Mindful Minecraft session in the Gaming and Interactive track. For those who aren’t familiar, the video game, Minecraft, has sold over 20 million copies across all gaming platforms (PC, Xbox, iOS, mobile), and is played by both kids and adults, alone or in a multiplayer environment. Servers across the country house multiplayer Minecraft sessions, where players work together to build worlds limited only by their imaginations. My own Minecraft knowledge is nascent, and I hope to convince my niece or nephew to slow down when they play and explain it further. Until then, I’m left to appreciate the artistry and the opportunity this gaming environment offers young and old. Following is a video shared by the #SXSW Mindful Minecraft presenter, Mike Langlois, a social worker who uses the video game as a tool to better understand his young patients, and redefine the way gaming addiction is perceived and approached.

Langlois also shared a number of interesting facts about both the single-player and multiplayer Minecraft environments that could be directly applicable to our healthcare learning environments. Mindfulness and teamwork were the two components of this game mentioned that really hit home for me. If you watched the video above, and understand just the basics about the game, the creation of such a work of art by a team of individuals located around the world is amazing in and of itself, and speaks to the coordination and teamwork developed in order to be successful. Langlois reported on additional findings from these gaming environments which could also show promise for learning emotional intelligence not taught through traditional healthcare curriculum, such as:

  1. Mindfulness — The game requires intentional, focused attention and keeps players in the moment. By taking a non-judgmental approach to the game, players learn to experience “what is”.
  2. Bullies in a the multiplayer gaming environments are soon marginalized. According to research on bullying, video game environments are ahead of schools in how bullies are managed.
  3. Kids eventually work out issues that arise on their own, before their Minecraft-playing parents have to intervene.
  4. Mode of play (i.e. single-player, multiplayer, creative, survival) changes the way players interact with, and within the game, allowing them to practice different social skills accordingly.
  5. Through different modes of play, autistic learners may be able to learn empathy.

Research has shown that surgeons who play video games were 27% faster at advanced surgical procedures and made 37% fewer errors than those who did not play video games. Additional studies have shown that scientific reasoning is improved through certain video game environments. Wouldn’t it be reasonable to think that care providers who practice mindfulness and team-based play in a video gaming environment might have better outcomes related to both? This is a study I would like to see funded!


Sharing of ‘Good Ideas’ Vital to Solve Healthcare Challenges in 2013

Thanks yet again to Twitter, I recently came across an article on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) site, Young Leaders Transform the Future. The article provides a brief outline of the projects designed by RWJF’s first 10 Young Leader Award recipients. The projects, and those who designed them, are so impressive that I felt obligated to share them in hopes they may add additional spark to an idea percolating within a reader, inspire a new collaboration, or be used as a solution to an existing healthcare challenge. Following are three of the award-winning Young Leaders, and a description of their projects as food for thought. Follow the link above to RWJF site for a description of all 10 projects, and more on the work being done to generate new healthcare solutions:

Ruben Amarasingham, MD, MBA
An algorithm developed by Amarasingham’s group spots patients whose social conditions put them at high risk for relapse after discharge from the hospital. Using this breakthrough technology, Parkland Hospital in Dallas has cut its 30-day readmission rate among Medicare heart-failure patients by a stunning 40 percent, a $500,000 savings that has sparked nationwide interest in Amarasingham’s technology.

Naa Oyo Kwate, PhD
With startling comprehensiveness and originality, Kwate video-documents urban neighborhoods to capture and analyze the ubiquity of racist symptoms and messaging. Lately, she has begun to talk back to the urban environment via billboard messages that lay bare—and hopefully defuse—racism’s destructiveness to human health.

Raina Merchant, MD, MS
Blending social media and tournament theory with an emergency physician’s passion to save lives, Merchant mapped the location of every defibrillator in Philadelphia. Next she wants manufacturers to install a GPS chip in defibrillators worldwide so your cell phone will automatically lead you to the nearest one.

The sharing of these Young Leader’s projects is in the spirit of Stephen Johnson, whose TED Talk is included below, and who believes that good ideas take time and input from others to truly take shape and become reality. If more writers, storytellers, documentarians, healthcare providers, entrepreneurs, tech-savvy creatives, patient advocates and others share their experience and stories perhaps we can jump-start the natural evolutionary process of idea formation to action in order to solve healthcare challenges sooner vs. later.