Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Imagine the Future of Medicine" Project

Yesterday's post hit a nerve: Who is planning the future of medicine? I don't mean the futuristic visions of single individuals, or even the palpable excitement that permeates rooms filled with health IT discussions. I am referring to an integrated vision for what we want to deliver, a vision that can then inform our actions. I am talking about strategy rather than tactics, as pointed out by Patrick Jonas in the comments here. Would you build a house without first developing a blue print? Why not? After all, we can all get excited about IKEA kitchen cabinets and stainless steel bathroom appliances. But if we don't first work with a team of people to think about the role of the structure informing its design, all we will have in the end is a pile of (shiny) rubble. So why is it that we are so averse to building a blue print for medicine? Or is it that we think it is politically impossible?

If I had to choose one most important thing I carried away from the Health Foo Camp, it would be this (as embodied by Regina Holliday): "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." And in the age of the internet, which allows groups of committed individuals to come together in fractions of a second, there is no excuse not to try.

So, here is what I propose: How about we start having that discussion here? I will accept blog posts on the theme of "Imagine the Future of Medicine" to be posted on this site. I don't just want to hear from doctors, or those who have previously made their views known (though I encourage you to contribute too). I want to hear from everyone who has something to contribute to the discussion. I want to hear from patients, pharmacists, engineers, architects, nurses, professors, story tellers, artists, poets, anyone who can articulate their vision for what medicine of the future can and should be.

Before we start, we need to lay out the values that should inform everything in medicine. From were I sit, "do no harm" is still the most important one of all. Equally important seems to be access to safe, humane and compassionate care aligned with the patient's values, and that is guaranteed to all. Did I miss something important? Remember, we are going for high level here to refer back to when we recommend more specific details to make sure they fit this overarching purpose.

I don't want to micromanage this. I want to free-range it and see where it goes. Heck, I am not even sure that I will get any responses from all you busy people who have more important daily duties to fulfill. But I want to try. We seem to be so fixated on the trees that we are not even sure what forest we want to end up in. Let's paint that forest.

There are a couple of rules to keep in mind:
1. I will not publish any profanities, personal attacks or marketing pitches.
2. To keep the reading manageable, I ask to limit your posts to 500 words. If you feel that you really need an extra 100 or 200 for an extremely important message, I will consider that.
3. I reserve the right to do some light editing for grammar, syntax and clarity.
4. If you are unable to make yourself clear, please, request editorial help before you send in your contribution.

So, let's make Margaret Mead proud and see where this field experiment ends up.

You can e-mail me your contributions for review at healthcareetcblog AT gmail DOT com                

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  1. A (not so) small group of thoughtful, committed people undertook this exercise to envision the maternity care system of the future and chart the blueprint to get there. You can find the Vision statement at http://transform.childbirthconnection.org/vision and the Blueprint at http://transform.childbirthconnection.org/blueprint. You can see more about the process of developing the consensus, multi-stakeholder documents here: http://transform.childbirthconnection.org/about/projectoverview/

    BTW, I just heard about your book yesterday. I'm very excited to get my hands on it!

  2. Amy, thank you very much! Will take a look. An thanks for your support on the book. Let me know if you would like a signed copy (though those will not be available for shipping until May 31).

    1. Too late - I already ordered a copy! Maybe I'll get it signed in person some time. Let me know if you're doing book readings in Western MA or CT.

    2. Amy, I am sure it's only a matter of time :)