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One Giant Leap: Flip the Clinic

Finding the MacGyver moments inside clinical health care, Day One.

14 years ago this September, I experienced my first day working in clinical healthcare.

My second day at the practice, I encountered a high school student trying to get pregnant after a miscarriage and a newly diagnosed stage IV cancer patient rejoicing through her faith that this was the moment God planned to call her home.

To say I was in the express lane for education on “meeting a patient where they are” and helping them set and achieve their own goals vs. those of society or a textbook recommendation, would be an understatement. That abrupt lesson carved my path forward, though, and I left with an acute awareness of the capabilities of meaningful clinical encounters.

Every single day in health care left behind a scar of solvable need.

The needs came from everyone involved — patients, clinicians, insurance coders, caregivers, and family members. The time we just couldn’t figure out how to get a prescription covered by a unique insurance plan, the time we photocopied and drove across town to the hospital to hand deliver records because the fax machine wasn’t working on their end, the lengthy dialogs about sweet tea not being a health food — countless Polaroid moments come to mind.

The List

I began keeping a list.

I’ve carried that list with me to Hill meetings with legislators and government officials in DC, it poked at me through data sets and research projects, and, most recently, it lingered as the echoing chorus behind my work creating and producing 50 G+ broadcasts with the Great Challenges Program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and TEDMED.

“Always go after the right tool for the job, the wrong one will only waste your time.” ~ my dad

Through each story, each methodology, each white paper, each policy bullet point, each broadcast and the discussions behind-the-scenes — I collected more pieces to consider, or another technology that got something almost checked of the list, or a regulation shift that created new liberty and oxygen.

I stuck them all in a curious little tool box remembering advice from my dad to always go after the right tool for the job, the wrong one will only waste your time.

That list grew with each story only emboldening its determination, but so did my tool box’s inventory of wacky ideas to fix them.

The Phone

Then one day, my phone rang. Thomas Goetz shared the unfolding adventures of one of his RWJF entrepreneur-in-residence projects, Flip the Clinic, and its plans for the road ahead.

I couldn’t sit still. Thank goodness walking meetings are an “in” thing to do. This was a place to drop in the to-do items on that list. It was a chance to explore some of the weird things I had experienced and find a way to make sure no one else had it happen to them.

My proverbial tool box with chewing gum, a paper clip, and a post-it note was about to get the MacGyver treatment and save the day!

Flip the Clinic is an open experiment to transform the patient-clinician experience. It is where patients and health practitioners improve medical care, together.

Today, we announced the news that we are hitting the road. We are headed to six cities in 2015 in preparation for a national summit in late 2015. We have plans to dig deep into the shared ideas and concepts from the broader Flip the Clinic community and challenge the idea that we all “have to” accept the way things are right now at the doctor’s office — which includes the enormously high rates of burnout and dissatisfaction among clinicians.

We have some masterful MacGyvers, thinkers, creators, and doers in our mix. My hope is that I see you in the next year either at the Community Labs or the evening events. My expectation is to see you online.

Oh! And, bring your list. Share it everywhere. We’ve got work to do.

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This post was originally featured on Medium.com/@MsWZ

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