It was the 10th year for the Cleveland Clinic’s innovation & empathy conference, a journey at Cleveland Clinic which started from a question from an MBA student to then CEO Toby Cosgrove asking if the Clinic’s physicians learned empathy.
You can hear him tell the story himself, and it’s personal for him.
And, if you haven’t seen Cleveland Clinic’s quintessential video on empathy, be sure to check it out.
This year, Dr Cosgrove was back to talk about what Google could learn from healthcare and visa versa, as he is a newly appointed advisor to Google Health. As a surprise, he was interviewed by the same student who asked the question so many years ago. Not surprisingly, Dr. Cosgrove believes that healthcare needs to embrace big data, and care outside the clinic. He didn’t have much to offer about what Google could learn, but we’d say protecting personal data would be the biggest thing.
Possibly because he’s no longer running a physician organization and yet he is a physician himself, Dr Cosgrove was pretty blunt about the biggest barrier to transform an organization to deliver empathetic care: the doctors themselves.
Another notable keynote came from Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Victor Montori, an endocrinologist, and author of Why We Revolt: A Patient Revolution for Kind and Careful Care. Dr Montori asks us to question our biases, assumptions, and language. He decries “industrial healthcare” where we “provide care.” Care is already a verb. He advocates a person-centered approach where the goals and needs of the individual, not billing or the organization are center. Dr. Montori talked about the phenomenon of doctors doing volunteer travel vacations in other countries because it gets them back to why they became physicians: to care for people.
The example of a woman struggling to understand her medication, and make good food choices while being aware of her culture reminded me of visiting my mom when she was in a rehabilitation hospital. When we started bringing homecooked meals and even restaurant takeout, she ate. Physicians couldn’t understand her weight loss and hair loss, blaming it on medication. The problem was the terrible nutritional value and taste of the food.
Patient stories were a key feature in the conference, while backing research up with data is important, it’s the stories that people remember.
How Walmart Started a Movement of Engagement
The power of human stories was prevalent in the presentation from Walmart’s David Hoke, who has created a movement of better health activities within the Walmart employee base, a challenging job when some stores have 100 per cent employee turnover. To create a movement that inserted a healthy virus into stores, David turned to military strategy:
- Compelling reason to join
- Place to join
- Have to have something to do
- Have something to share with people they love
- People follow people
Instead of going directly to digital health, the program was designed to be analog to have the broadest reach, and to overcome people’s fears of being tracked. The program featured story booklets in breakrooms that highlighted other employees journey’s to health. Participants described thinking “well if that person can do it, so can I” after reading the stories, and seeing videos of successful program participants. By the way, if you’re a Walmart customer, you can also join the program, which is now available digitally as well as analog.
Nebraska Medicine’s Situational Interviewing
In order to find the patient stories, you have to ask the right questions, and HCHAPs isn’t doing that. We see this all the time at Wellpepper: You need to talk to patients to get the story behind the data points. In this example, a patient had rated Nebraska Medicine highly for caring about her. Rather than just accepting this as praise, researchers dug deeper and asked how the patient perceived this, and the patient’s example was of a nurse who noticed she had dry skin and applied lotion. Another patient rated the facility high on cleanliness because he saw a physician pick up some garbage in the patient’s room. The key takeaway from this session was that patients infer intent.
Geisinger’s Longitudinal Patient Record
Chanin Wendling from Geisinger talked about their implementation of a CRM to be able to track a longitudinal patient experience. Knowing when and where patients are interacted with by the health system will go a long way towards understanding their overall experience.
Wellpepper Digital Intervention for Seniors
Dr. Jonathan Bean from Harvard, talked about why interventions for seniors are so important, and how design impacts whether someone is considered “able” by sharing an example of a cross walk timer being decreased so that slower people could no longer get across the street. Dr. Bean the Director of the New England GREC at the VA, professor at Harvard, and our research partner at Wellpepper, and we were extremely proud when he presented results of the REACH digital intervention using Wellpepper that reduced ED visits in seniors by 73%. We’ll share more when the study outcomes are published in the journal of PM&R.
Financial Impact of Care
Another theme that bubbled up in so many sessions at the conference is the financial impact of care, and the intertwined aspects of financial and physical health. A few key points:
- Walmart has introduced a banking/payday loan application for employees so that they don’t have to pay the exorbitant rates of quick loan companies.
- People cut back in other areas of their lives to pay for healthcare
- 95% of patients want to talk to their provider about healthcare costs but providers aren’t equipped to do so. They don’t want to talk to the health plan or billing/collections department.
This was my first time at the summit, but it won’t be the last, especially as it evolves to encompass more aspects of patient experience outside the clinic, and through non-traditional methods like chatbots, virtual assistants, and virtual reality.
It’s hard to encapsulate all the learning at the conference, and no one person can attend all the sessions, but MobiHealth News has a great recap of the keynotes and individual sessions as well.