What “Patients included” looks like : 2012 Permanente Executive Leadership Summit

Precious Cargo, our members/patients and their families, Permanente Executive Leadership Summit (view on Flickr.com)

The bi-annual-ish Permanente Executive Leadership Summit just concluded, in Goleta, California, and I can say that I learned a lot about what “patients included” looks like.

This year, for the first time, we invited 4 Kaiser Permanente members and their families to join the meeting. Kaiser Permanente member Regina Holilday ( @ReginaHolliday ) actually paved the way for this group in 2010, as the very first patient to ever attend this meeting. Want to see what she thought of it? We did a short video to capture the moment.

What I found out at this meeting, though, is that this wasn’t the only way patients were included. A physician colleague, Kerry Litman, MD, did a presentation on video storytelling, where he brought videos of patients that he’s recorded in his leadership work. Some of the videos show positive outcomes, some of them introduce us to patients and experiences that make us wish for better. One colleague of mine said it was the first time he’s cried at this meeting. Another said to one of our members:


The voices of our patients were also broadcast as the opening sequence of one of the days, taken from the work of Kaiser Permanente’s groundbreaking video ethnography projects. You can read about those here: Now Reading: Another way to listen, Video Ethnography | Ted Eytan, MD.

And then there were the actual members. They were recruited because they are experts in the area of health care they came to represent, expertise that they obtained involuntarily. These included – social media, palliative care, video storytelling, stroke prevention, and transitions in care. In this way, they contributed to the conversation and the learning by helping us focus and allowing us to ask questions, and maybe to understand that we don’t understand their experience — yet.

We gave the project a title, “Precious Cargo,” because one of the videos of our members reminded us what our members/patients are to us. Each member/family was assigned a host, and I assigned myself to Mackenzie Marsh ( @mackenziemarsh ), an actor and casting director in Southern California. Her dad, Bill Marsh, MD ( @MDAI ) has been a mentor of mine and general source of over-the-top inspiration, and in his work to engage our colleagues around the future, often invokes his daughter. This was our chance for her to come and tell her story, and now my head is full of ideas to learn more.

I was given the chance to do a short interview with three of our Precious Cargo attendees, which is being edited as we speak. We wanted to capture their feelings and experiences to encourage other patients/members/people and health care leaders to involve them more. I will link to/post that video when it’s done.

I found out that including patients does require great care and work. This includes a proper consent process and attention from the time of registration through the entire event. It’s modeling what we would want for an actual care experience in any medical center.

I also found out that I am surrounded by colleagues who are just as passionate about our members’ experience as I am (I am not that smart and my ideas are not that unique, after all). No one in this process told us we could not do this, we just needed to be the ones to do it, and we did it, as a team. Thank you Carol, Robin, Jim, Joanne, Rivka, Mark, Violeta, Jann, Dina. Also Amy Compton-Phillps, MD ( @amyleecp3 ) – being member-centered means having good leadership, not the absence of it.

Kerry Litman’s session included 2 of our members who were filmed and told our group about their experience and why they shared their story:

In the course of preparing for the session, we discovered that Veronica and Valentin had not seen the video that was created and used to teach other doctors about their care. This meeting served an additional purpose then, to show them that they did make a difference. It is a beautiful thing when they make a difference with us and we get to see it together, isn’t it? (It is.)

Here’s the text message that Veronica and Valentin sent me when they arrived home. I’m sharing it with their permission, to encourage the hearts of other health professionals who wonder if this is worth it. It is.

“We made it home safely. We would like to thank you for a wonderful trip & for loving what you do, being able to be part of a program or project to reach out not only to Dr.’s but ordinary people like me is beyond amazing. Thank you! & God continue blessing you and your family.” – Veronica and Valentin Aguilar

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