The Green Doctor Office Program – helps medical practices across the US prevent care before it’s needed

In the last 2-4 weeks I’ve reflected on a consistent theme that I’ve encountered in the area of health care that goes beyond what the industry traditionally sees as its role, and that is the leadership of individual, dedicated physicians.

It’s a bit like the Apple, Inc. “misfits” commercials because these people push the boundaries. The place where I work places a heavy emphasis on developing physician leadership, but (and fortunately) there are many of these people across health care that think different, too.

I got to meet Todd Sack, MD, ( @toddsack ) a gastroenterologist in Jacksonville, Florida, who is one of those people.

I first heard about the program that Todd is leading out of the Florida Medical Association, the Green Doctor Office Program, at as I was doing my reading on climate change in health care.

The Green Doctor Office Program  makes it easy for smaller teams and practices (where the overwhelming majority of health care is provided) to create green teams, eliminate wasteful practices, and save money in the process. It’s laid out really well, there’s no registration requirement, and there’s a path to recognition by the Florida Medical Association. It’s also a gift to all of health care – you don’t have to be a Florida-based practice to take these steps or receive recognition.

Why Florida? It turns out that Todd is a native Californian and has always had an interest in the physician’s responsibility for the environment and health. He’s Past Chair of the Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board, Past Chair, Climate Change Advisory Group for the Florida Energy Commission, Past Member, of the Florida Energy Commission, and current Chair, Environmental & Health Section, Florida Medical Association.

It’s possible to imagine that a medical association might not be the place where leadership comes from in this area, given the many issues brought to them by their membership. And yet, it’s happening here.

A passionate physician leader can understand that health professionals don’t want to provide care in a way that makes the community less healthy. They can go farther and create an approach to change this situation that’s relevant to her/his colleagues. From this work, I can see how it’s possible to create medical care where health care doesn’t undermine itself, with some knowledge, and some tools, and the built-in thought for the people we serve.

Just as in the diversity / patient empowerment movement,  a program like this also  promotes leadership at all levels of a practice team (even the patients!) to provide their ideas, expertise, emotional equity. Caring for the community is health care, too, and it doesn’t require a medical/nursing/professional degree.

As I posted previously, if we think our patients don’t notice waste in health care (of our resources, their resources, the environment, our time, their time), think again. The converse is that they notice when we take steps to reduce waste, save their communities, save their health before they need health care.

If you look at the CO2 footprint of an organization the size of Kaiser Permanente, it’s easy to see how the impact adds up. Thanks, Todd, and Florida Medical Association, for supporting every patient in every practice in receiving care in a way that helps their community be healthy, too.

Oh, and Todd is just getting up to speed on Twitter, but go ahead, follow him, he’ll be a great resource 🙂 : @toddsack

1 Comment

Ted Eytan, MD