You can’t make this stuff up. Here I am, a cancer patient from Nashua, New Hampshire who goes around raving enthusiastically about engaging patients in better care, and out of nowhere, tomorrow in a session I’m running, Tom Peters has something to say, and asked to comment. So though he wasn’t planned as a speaker, he’ll be in my session.
(That’s the banner from the top of his site, TomPeters.com.) He’s the co-author of the absolute classic business book In Search of Excellence, and sixteen books since then. Here’s his Wikipedia page, that book’s Wikipedia page, his Twitter @tom_peters, his other books.
So, what is mister Management Guru doing, asking to comment at a medical conference? In the interest of time, I’ll interview myself.
What’s this event?
This is at the Eleventh Annual Quality Colloquium, at Harvard, today through Wednesday. It’s a top-tier conference on improving quality and safety in medicine.
What do you mean by that?
In my view, in medicine “quality and safety” means
- doing what we know to do
- doing it well
- and not causing avoidable harm in the process
Not only is medicine not doing very well at that, but the industry tends to resist change.
What’s the session?
I’m chairing a two-hour “mini-summit” titled “Engaging and Empowering Patients for Quality and Safety.” As I’ve often said, patients are the most under-used resource in healthcare, and nobody cares more about the outcome than patients do, so this just makes sense.
But the question is, what can patients possibly do to help, given that they don’t have medical training? That’s what this session (and another – see below) are about.
Structure of the session:
- I’ll do a short opening statement
- Michael Millenson, widely published author on health quality, will speak about a paper he produced this May (with the National Partnership for Women & Families, sponsored by Aetna): Building Patient-Centeredness in the Real World: The Engaged Patient and the Accountable Care Organization.
- I’ll give a talk, based on my keynote address two years ago at the same conference, again addressing thereal-world ways that patients and families can help healthcare achieve its potential.
- We’ll be followed by Dr. Rajni Aneja, Executive VP of Joslin Clinic, who’ll talk about a telemedicine application they’re using to bring better eye exams to remote patients.
- Then Tom will join us on stage for a Q&A / reaction panel.
Since when did Tom Peters get interested in healthcare?
Since its limitations touched him, very close to home, many years ago. Like many of us, he’s acutely aware of the ways that medicine could and should take advantage of improvement methods that are common in other industries – but unlike most of us, Tom Peters has actually sat with and worked with leaders in other industries while they accomplished the changes.
And, in his words:
Long ago, my In Search of Excellence co-author, Bob Waterman, told a reporter, “Tom is only truly happy when he’s pissed off at something.” Well, the patient safety issue pissed me off big time! But Bob got one thing wrong; I get pissed off at an egregious situation that is obvious to anyone whose breath clouds a mirror, and yet is woefully neglected; and where remarkable strides can be made without resorting to rocket science. Patient safety fits that bill to a T.
There’s more, but I’m out of time. I don’t know what he’s going to say, but I’m glad I’ll be there: medicine could use the kind of quality innovation that Peters has seen first-hand and even helped create.
Before our session, the second speech of the day has a similar title: Empowering and Engaging Patients to Ensure Safety. It’ll be given by Helen Haskell (see her conference bio here) of Mothers Against Medical Error, also co-director of the Empowered Patient Coalition and was recently named to the board of directors of the IHI (Institute for Healthcare Improvement).
I’m especially thrilled that Michael is on the board of the Society for Participatory Medicine, and Helen is a member. You know you’re getting somewhere when a conference like this hosts appearances by three members of this relatively new society!
There’s a paid webcast available for the whole event, not for individual sessions. A recording of this session will be available for purchase some time afterward.
The Twitter hashtag for the whole event is #QC2012.
p.s. Health geeks among you will be interested to know this excerpt from another email he sent, about an organization I love:
For 25 years my ‘gig’ has been ‘excellence.’ Put simply, there is no better exemplar of customer-centered, employee-friendly excellence, in any industry, than Griffin-Planetree. The Planetree model works—and in my extensive work in the health sector, I ‘sell’ it shamelessly, and pray that my clients are taking it all in.
Turns out he was around long ago, at a little 12-bed unit in a hospital in San Francisco, where they were trying this wacky west-coast thing of doing things just because patients said it was important to them.
Things like turning off the lights and being quiet in the halls, so the sick person could get a good night’s sleep.
Well, that little unit grew into Planetree. And if you care about the patient’s experience in healthcare, you should darn well drop everything and learn about Planetree. (No, none of us have any financial stake in Planetree.)
Can’t wait for this session.