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Flip the Clinic: Transforming the Clinical Experience


Jonathan Brown of Counsyl explains flips at a workshop. Photo by Gabriel Branbury.

A new initiative from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation aims to redesign visits to the doctor’s office. The project, called Flip the Clinic was inspired by Sal Khan, the founder of Khan Academy. Khan flipped the traditional classroom by posting instructional videos online; the creators of Flip the Clinic wanted to change the way we look at healthcare in the same way. Within the Flip the Clinic initiative, doctors and patients would ideally spend more time interacting with each other and having meaningful conversations.

The detailed goals of the initiative involve creating specific sets of practices that might improve a visit to the doctor. Many patients and doctors are frustrated by current clinical experiences, during which there is little time and miscommunications often occur. “Flip the Clinic wants to shift these processes to ones that work better for both sides of the human equation,” says Michael Painter, J.D., M.D., a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Flip the Clinic’s website was launched in 2014 and it included flips posed by the foundation. The site also encouraged people to pose their own flips. The response was positive and encouraging – a virtual community came together to start a discussion about realistic ways to change the clinical experience. Now, the project is solely focused on building a larger virtual community and encouraging further discussion.

Each flip provides a new, unique way of looking at physician- patient interactions. Examples of proposed flips include creating communication guides in the clinic with a deck of cards, and cutting down on unnecessary patient visits by using big data analytics to determine necessity. The flips are explained in detail on the website and people can comment on each idea with constructive feedback. Each flip is also characterized based on its phase: idea, pilot or final result.

“The hope is that the Flip the Clinic website would be a forum for sharing ideas to build on current flips and share success stories,” Painter says. “The focus remains not on implementing the flips but on providing a platform for people to discuss this shift in healthcare.”

Flip the Clinic has a big year ahead – they’ll run a series of workshops in 2015 and they’re taking their community vision on the road as the team heads to six different cities across the United States. The workshops will start in the Bay area and continue on to Miami, Austin, Durham, Minneapolis and Philadelphia. The workshops are aimed at a diverse group of participants who can contribute from many perspectives – patients, nurses, providers and more.

“We are offering an opportunity for patients and healthcare professionals who are frustrated by the time they have spent together to come up with ideas to help themselves and pose them to a wider community,” Painter says.

Soniya Shah

Soniya Shah

    Soniya Shah is an on-staff contributing writer at MedTech Boston. She's a senior at Carnegie Mellon University pursuing a BS in technical writing. She has experience as a ghost writer and medical writer, and in developing software documentation.

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