The Future of Patient Engagement in the Digital Age

By Ted A James, MD, MHCM, FACS
October 10, 2018

We live in a digital age of information and innovation, where technological advances continue to make accessibility and independence the norm. Health care, however, has a peculiar relationship with technology. Although we have experienced life-changing advances in medical science, health care delivery systems often fail to meet today’s expectations of convenience, transparency, and choice. Most other industries are far ahead of health care when it comes to engaging with the people they serve (e.g., Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, etc.). As a result, people are less willing to accept the delays, inconvenience, and lack of control traditionally experienced in health care. We are unlikely to succeed in achieving high-value care (i.e., greater quality, lower cost) unless our health care systems can factor patient engagement into the equation. A digital health revolution is coming, and those who prepare and are ready to adapt stand to reap the benefits. Continue reading “The Future of Patient Engagement in the Digital Age”

Making sense of opioid prescribing in the midst of the overdose crisis

By Sarah Wakeman, MD
September 18, 2018

In the face of a growing crisis of overdose deaths, predominantly driven by opioid-related fatalities, there has been a tremendous focus on decreasing the prescribing of opioid pain relievers. The reason for the drive to reduce prescribing is pretty simple; when we looked at the onset of the current crisis of opioid-related deaths, it was strongly correlated with rising rates of prescription opioids and treatment admissions for prescription opioid use disorder. As policy makers and clinicians looked at this correlation, a simplistic narrative emerged. If increased prescribing rates “caused” the overdose crisis, then reducing prescribing should curtail deaths. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.” As prescribing rates have decreased over the past five years, we have seen opioid-related deaths increase significantly. Continue reading “Making sense of opioid prescribing in the midst of the overdose crisis”

Do You Need an MBA to Be a Physician Leader?

By Ted A James, MD, MHCM, FACS
September 6, 2018

…leadership skills, like any other type of skill, can be learned and improved…. More challenging, however, is the development of the personal attributes that are necessary for effective leadership.”

-Charanjit S. Rihal, MD
Chair, Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Mayo Clinic

Physicians as Administrative Leaders

Physicians possess a deep understanding of what is required to optimize the process of caring for people, and health care systems that are serious about transformation need to harness the power, talent, and creativity of clinicians as organizational leaders. Toward this end, a growing number of physicians are moving into executive leadership, and organizations are experiencing the benefit of having these physicians in key roles, providing input into what is best for patients and the organization as a whole. Continue reading “Do You Need an MBA to Be a Physician Leader?”

Setting the Stage: Why Health Care Needs a Culture of Respect

By Ted A James, MD
July 31, 2018

The Foundation of Respect

Respect is an essential component of a high-performance organization. It helps to create a healthy environment in which patients feel cared for as individuals, and members of health care teams are engaged, collaborative, and committed to service. Within a culture of respect, people perform better, are more innovative, and display greater resilience. On the contrary, a lack of respect stifles teamwork and undermines individual performance. It can also lead to poor interactions with patients. Cultivating a culture of respect can truly transform an organization and leaders set the stage for how respect is manifested. Continue reading “Setting the Stage: Why Health Care Needs a Culture of Respect”

Is “Meaningful Use” Contributing to Physician Burnout?

Aligning quality incentive measures with physician wellness: When “Meaningful Use” leads to less meaning in a physician’s practice

By Ami Bhatt, MD, FACC
July 5, 2018

Lately, I have been struck by how often the phrases physician burnout and meaningful use are used in any given day, leading both to suffer the same fate: neither one is well defined. While speaking with colleagues across the country, I’ve asked the question, “What does meaningful use mean to you?” The answers I’ve received vary from expletives, to “waste of time,” “hoop to jump through,” and “garbage in, garbage out.” Those in leadership or quality improvement positions have a different insight: “My physicians call any task asked of them ‘meaningful use’,” or “The institution has many governing bodies, each with their own expectations, but they all call their needs ‘meaningful use’ which frustrates my physicians.” The logistics of meaningful use in the electronic health record (EHR) are also often noted: “I forget more than I remember it, but now there are prompts,” and “The extra 45 seconds per note adds up with a busy clinic.” Continue reading “Is “Meaningful Use” Contributing to Physician Burnout?”

Creating a High-Performance Health Care Organization

By Ted A James, MD, MHCM
June 28, 2018

“The goal in health care really needs to be zero preventable harm.”
—Lucien Leape

Modern health care has been described as one of the most complex industries in the world. Advances in biotechnology, data analytics, and genomic medicine alone have enabled greater capabilities and more sophisticated care than any other time in history. The problem with complexity is that human beings are imperfect and fallible, leading to the potential for medical error and fragmented care. With greater complexity comes a greater risk of failure, making it challenging to deliver on the promise of safe, reliable, and effective health care. Continue reading “Creating a High-Performance Health Care Organization”

Turning the Tide on Physician Suicide

By Ami B. Bhatt, MD, FACC
June 14, 2018

Since the two very sudden public suicide deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, society has again recognized that we never know what is under the surface of another’s façade. As physicians, these tragic occurrences emphasize that our caregiving requires seeing the entirety of an individual’s many parts.

While we acknowledge that the façade is not fake—it is but one true representation of an individual, well-curated, like pages on Facebook or Instagram—no one mourns the corporate façade created for these individuals. We mourn the fact that despite feeling we know someone, we didn’t see it coming. This is that much harder when it is a loved one, and most frightening when you might see it in yourself.  Especially, if you are a physician. Continue reading “Turning the Tide on Physician Suicide”