TEDMED #GreatChallenges: Meaningful Minutes: Reinventing the Clinical Visit

Almost everyone has had a visit with a health provider that left him or her less than satisfied. Maybe your doctor seemed rushed, or you didn’t get a chance to ask an important question. Recently, several experts explored the challenges related to improving and reinventing the clinical visit through TEDMED Great Challenges (TEDMED Great Challenges: Meaningful Minutes: Reinventing the Clinical Visit). This program provides a platform for experts, researchers, advocates and patients to learn and collaborate to build a “better future in health and medicine.”

The discussion revolved around a concept called “flip the clinic.” Flip the clinic is a new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded effort researching the “needs and opportunities for improving the doctor-patient interaction and assessing what works and what doesn’t.” The goal of flip the clinic is to look beyond top-down strategies for improving health care interactions and inspire people to innovate to get more out of the doctor-patient relationship.

The Panel

Thomas Goetz, who has a master’s degree in public health, moderated Meaningful Minutes: Reinventing the Clinical Visit. He is the co-founder of the innovative health data company Iodine. Goetz is the former executive editor of Wired magazine and author of The Decision Tree, a book about modern medical decision-making and technology.

Panelist Adam Dole is a Presidential Innovation Fellow working on a MyData Initiative called Blue Button at the Department of Health and Human Services. Dole has been an entrepreneur-in-residence at the Mayo Clinic, where he was instrumental in the development of a Mayo Clinic digital health startup Better.

Panelist Alexandra Drane is the founder, chief visionary officer and chairman of the board at Eliza, a health-engagement management company. She has over 20 years of experience running successful health care nonprofits and for-profit ventures. Drane is an expert on topics such as innovation, technology and patient/provider interactions.

Panelist Dr. Ivor Braden Horn, with a master’s degree in public health, is an academic pediatrician and primary investigator at Children’s National Health System. Dr. Horn is also an assistant professor of pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine and is a graduate of the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Sciences. Her research interests include racial and ethnic child health disparities and provider communication with African American parents from diverse socio-economic backgrounds in a pediatric primary care setting.

Finally, panelist Nick Dawson has more than 15 years of experience working in hospitals in strategy and operational roles. He believes “health care is about humans taking care of other humans.” Dawson focuses on assisting health systems modernize their strategies to focus on human-centered design, hoping to influence them to work openly with the patients at the center of their work. He is also a Principal at better. Healthcare Consulting.


Key Insights

The hangout covered many ways to improve the patient/physician interactions with key insights such as:

  • Patients want to participate but need to be invited to the conversation.
  • New technology tools can be used to encourage greater patient responsibility, empowerment and authority.
  • Improvements in patient responsibility, empowerment and authority will help physicians manage time constraints and reduce time spent on bureaucratic tasks.
  • Records must be formatted to allow interaction outside of the physical office and should facilitate sharing across the health ecosystem.
  • Collecting more data is not the same as collecting better data. Data designs must reflect the issues patients are concerned with including life circumstance and other contextual issues.

All the panelists agreed: Finesse is required when instituting technology that works for the patient, the physician and larger public health systems. Better design and engagement from all sides is key to putting technology to work. Designs should facilitate health care interactions that feel more like a conversation than a download.

Strategies and Takeaways

The panel suggested the following takeaways and strategies for anyone looking to make changes — big or small — as a patient, a provider or an administrator.

  • For patients
    • Try setting the agenda yourself.
  • For providers
    • Try empathy exercises.
    • Pay attention to contextual issues in patients’ lives such as home life and work life.
    • Expand the idea of health encounters beyond office walls through technology such as Open Notes or community-based settings.
  • For administrators
    • Meet young people where they are to keep them healthy and incentivize them to maintain health.
    • Develop flexible data.
    • Drive policy with outcomes to develop new systems that keep people healthy over time.
    • Make empathy a primary skill for health care providers.
    • Expand the idea of who is a health care provider to include families, support groups and the community.
    • Share what works.

All panelists were in agreement that there is no one “right way” to approach improvements to the clinic visit. If anything, the panel encouraged listeners to question everything and be creative in finding strategies and approaches that work for their situation.

MHA@GW is proud to support the Great Challenges Program at TEDMED, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Through weekly dialogues with TEDMED’s intellectually diverse community, we move toward a more meaningful understanding of the great challenges of health and medicine. Click here to learn more about the Great Challenges Program. To share your ideas, join in the discussion at #GreatChallenges.