I recently had the opportunity to attend the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s 25th Annual National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care held in Orlando. As a family member who altered my career last year after my sister’s death to focus on improving the patient experience, the conference was a dream come true for me. Cited by many as one of the best conferences in healthcare, the IHI Forum was an incredible experience with inspirational and thought provoking keynotes, educational sessions, informative and interactive exhibits, a bookstore packed with knowledge and 6,000 people from around the world – all interested in improving healthcare. I met wonderful people, whom I hope will be my friends for life.
The Beryl Institute generously supported a booth – The Patient Is In. Prominently situated in the Forum lobby, the kiosk offered attendees the opportunity to talk with patients, family members and patient advisors about how they can better work together.
The conference was bookended by two inspiring speakers – Maureen Bisognano, the President of IHI and Don Berwick, the founder of IHI 25 years ago.
Maureen kicked off the Forum with a thought provoking message to "flip healthcare.” Just as other industries are flipping, such as education where lessons are learned at home and "homework” is done in classrooms under the teachers’ watchful eyes, Maureen’s request was for the audience to discover a new model of healthcare.
Her message was complemented by Don Berwick’s remarkable closing keynote. Using the analogy of John Harrison in the 1700s, who researched for 47 years and invented four apparatuses that map longitude and time, healthcare initiatives can be just as revolutionary…and take just as long.
His inspirational message invoked Maureen’s flip it theme by imagining a world where we don’t just focus on health care but rather health creation. He cited four pillars of human flourishing: psychological resilience, social support and cohesion, exercise movement and sleep and health exposure to substances in diet and environment. He went on to discuss the characteristics of Dan Buettner’s Blue Zone communities: move naturally, know your purpose – have a reason for waking up, kick back – shed stress, eat less, eat less meat, drink in moderation, have faith, power of love – family first and stay social. The effects of these activities have proven to have enormous impact on health.
Don reinforced his new health vision when he described a car trip to visit his two-year old grandson, Caleb. Don started the drive upset with tense shoulders and neck, and stomach pains. But as he drove closer to the little boy who would jump in his arms, his pains, his aches and his tensions melted. Don created good health through Caleb. He concluded his powerful presentation by asking the rapt audiences: Who or what is your Caleb?
The recent upheaval in healthcare presents a rare opportunity for transforming an industry that is crying for change in so many areas. And if you think that you can’t do much yourself, remember Lindsay Beck.
In her keynote interview with NBC medical editor Nancy Snyderman, Lindsay told her sometimes funny and poignant story. Through her treatment for a cancerous tongue, she ultimately forced all U.S. doctors to inform patients that chemotherapy could sterilize them and convinced every insurance company to pay for freezing a woman’s eggs or a man’s sperm. As Nancy pointed out, Lindsay changed western medicine.
What can you do? Don had six suggestions:
- Reconsider you own concept of health.
- Reconsider the form and function of your piece of the healthcare system.
- Take account of healing tools you and your patients have that lie outside the boundaries of the healthcare system.
- Bring systems thinking to the pursuit of well-being.
- Re-establish your faith in and use of connectedness and interpersonal relationships.
- Remember, embrace and celebrate that kindness is inseparable from healing and good health.
Let’s get started...we’ve got a lot to do.
Barbara Lewis, MBA is the founder of Joan’s Family Bill of Rights, which focuses on writing, speaking and researching to improve the patient experience. She is a member of The Beryl Institute’s Global Patient and Family Advisory Council and a recipient of a 2013 Beryl Institute grant.