ImproveCareNow Clinicians


The future of IBD research is in your hands

ImproveCareNow has partnered with Patient PrioritiesThe goal of medical research is to find answers that will improve the lives of patients. But how can we be sure the answers really matter if we don’t ask patients what they want and need to know?

ImproveCareNow is committed to supporting research that represents patient and family perspectives. As part of our funding from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute and the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, we are working with leading health care researchers from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Katherine Bevans, PhD and Chris Forrest, MD, PhD (selected publications by Dr. Forrest) to use new ways to engage everyone in the IBD community in setting our direction for learning. They have created a website called Patient Priorities to find out what YOU want and need to know about Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (IBD). You don’t need any research experience to participate.

You will be asked to recall moments during your/your child’s diagnosis and/or treatment when you wanted more information, or had questions that were not answered. Maybe you had questions when comparing two treatment options, or making the decision to end a particular treatment. Any difficult moment when you needed more clarity and information is important for researchers to know about.

Responses to the 10-minute survey are anonymous and will be grouped with many other responses to develop a list of “Learning Objectives.”  Some Learning Objectives may be answered using existing research. Where there is good research to answer common questions, ImproveCareNow will be making more tools and resources for families available through care centers and in our online communities: Facebook, Twitter, here on LOOP, CIRCLE, the ICN Exchange and Smart Patients. Those Learning Objectives that are unanswered and require more research will be added to the ImproveCareNow research agenda.

We’ve heard from many patients with IBD and their parents. It would be great to hear from many more to be sure the Learning Objectives really represent a wide variety of experiences.

Here’s your survey: http://bit.ly/lrnobjs

This is an important opportunity for us to shape the future of IBD research. We will be sharing our results and what we’ve learned along the way, so you can see how we’re outsmarting IBD together.


Hi, I’m Steve and I am a Hoosier.

Steve Steiner is a pediatric gastroenterologist, hoosier and cochair of the ICN Research Committee

For those of you unfamiliar with the term 'Hoosier', it is used to describe a native of Indiana. No one really knows who came up with it, but I do share the distinction with John Dillinger, James Dean, John Mellencamp, Michael Jackson, and David Letterman. My mother is a nurse, but there was never a doctor in our family until I graduated from med school.


When working for becomes working with...

Look on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and many other social media outlets over the past few weeks, and ImproveCareNow is all over the place. Many quotes about “parents as partners,” “real patient engagement,” and “amazing collaboration.” It’s fantastic to see the buzz we are generating. It’s huge, and important, and feels like it will catalyze many others who are working on similar efforts to jump in and do the same. We have a lot to teach now, even as we learn. It’s helping us achieve health outcomes we did not think possible and will probably help others do the same.

 

But what does this mean at the micro level, in the day-to-day shuffle (and sometimes tornado!) of getting the real work of running this complicated Network done? I don’t pretend not to realize that the care teams out there across in our 65 centers are doing the hard work – planning visits in advance, getting to know our new automated reporting tools, and trying to fit this all into their already complex clinic workflows. They (with the families they serve) are real heroes in this Network. But a lot of work also goes on at the ImproveCareNow leadership and staff levels to make it all possible. And I consider myself very fortunate to be in the position, as part of this team, where I get to see how many of the pieces fit together, and witness the not so subtle shift in what it means to “work for ImproveCareNow.”

 

I’m going to use our recently completed Spring Learning Session as an example. Even just one year ago, planning the Learning Session meant that the core Quality Improvement (QI) project team and I looked at Network priorities and recent lessons learned, identified who would do a good job speaking about these things, and pieced together what usually turned out to be a good agenda for a good meeting. Parents and patients were starting to attend Learning Sessions, but were on the fringes and some would tell you they spent their weekend trying to figure out where they fit in. We felt good about including them, but we didn’t feel good about not understanding quite how we all fit together.

 

What a difference a year can make! In planning for the Spring 2014 Learning Session I found myself watching as unprecedented collaborations between clinicians and parents, data managers and parents, took place across the miles. In one instance, what began as an offhand comment about the potential for a parent panel at the Learning Session, which would address how centers can better engage families in QI work, became a series of many, many emails between a clinician, several parents, and ImproveCareNow staff. Over three months we worked together to co-design the objectives and draft a call-to-action that the panel could deliver to the Network. The result was one of the highlights of this Learning Session.

 

In another instance, a parent asked for permission to use Network remission data in his presentation—the kind of data that he knew could illustrate the ImproveCareNow story best. Again, I found myself watching an amazing email discussion unfold between the parent, our ImproveCareNow data manager and the centers that agreed to have their data displayed in a novel way by a parent. This kind of conversation about data (“send me that,” “no, let’s try it this way,” “yes, that will have the most impact”) happens all the time within ImproveCareNow. But until now, had been limited to QI, data management, communications, and IT staff.

 

I used to believe ImproveCareNow staff and leadership needed to work for the clinicians, parents, patients and others that make up this Network…they were partners, but also customers and we had to make it all work well for them. I now realize it’s all about working with them so they can help us get things right. So yes, I work with the many care teams who are providing more proactive and reliable medical, nursing, nutritional, social work, and psychological support to pediatric patients with IBD. But I also work with Justin, Jamie, Sami, JenJo, Jennie, Tania, Beth, David, and many, many others who have ideas and experiences that also need to be integrated into this learning health system.

 

Today these patient and parent partners email me just as any of my other coworkers would. They email me during the work day, but also at 11:00 PM and 4:00 AM, during their time. They do so despite having busy full-time jobs inside or outside of their homes and despite the extra time they already devote to caring for children with a chronic illness. They share their ideas, ask for my input, worry about pushing us too fast (I often hear: “we’re not going to get you all fired, are we?”), worry about not pushing us fast enough, and ask how my kids are doing. I push them to post things on our internal knowledge-sharing platform, the ICN Exchange, just like I push the care centers. They are creating 90-day goals to focus and guide their work just like the care centers.  Most of all, they are helping us walk together into a new model for running this Network, understanding we won’t get it right every time, caring about the impact on others who are new to this level of partnership too, and above all, making sure we all stay connected to what this work is really about:

 

 

 


Words Into Action

It was a Monday and I had a migraine.

The hospital room was grey and muted.  I was on my side with my eyes closed, trying to wish away the headache. A suave, slicked-hair doctor – the new GI for the week – strode into the room, the curtains whooshing slightly with his arrival, followed by his resident, and my mother stood up from her chair. They all stood at the foot on my bed, a semi-circle, as I pulled my legs closer to me and rolled onto my back.

Within minutes, I went from sleepy and calm to sobbing and furious. I could hear myself talk, I could hear the escalation of my voice and the rising tremor as I began to cry, but no one was listening. Everything I said was countered – I said, “I want to go home,” and the doctor would say, “Yes, but…” and I would say again, demanding this time, “I want to go home,” and the doctor would repeat, “Yes, but…” Finally I broke eye contact with him, my voice boiling higher and higher, and instructed him just to tell me what he wanted since I clearly was not making my point. “Do whatever you want,” I said, “You just make a decision for me and stop pretending like I have a say, because clearly I don’t. Just tell me what you want me to do.”

I am someone who believes in the patient voice, in working with doctors, in pushing for what you think is right, in being persistent. What had happened to that girl and who was this person, someone who just threw her hands up and willingly handed over her decision-making rights to a doctor she’d never met?

It is very easy to talk about change and use wonderful terms like “patient-centered care” and “shared decision-making.” It is easy, and often it is done with the best of intentions. It is much more difficult, however, to put these things into practice alongside busy lives and complicated patients. How do you achieve patient-centered care and shared decision-making with a patient such as myself, one with refractory disease who has ‘failed’ every traditional medication, has already undergone aggressive surgery, and who sits in front of you on her hospital bed, legs folded, eyes blurry with tears, asking you for the rest of her life, and all you can offer is another fluid bolus. What happens then?

In some ways, it was easier as a pediatric patient when I was not responsible for my care in full. And even though now I have legal rights as an adult patient, to decide what I think is best, in upsetting and frustrating situations I do notice myself defaulting to needing my parents. I find often my doctors are talking directly to my parents and forgetting that I am there. And, like that Monday, sometimes I feel like I have no power or ability to direct my care.

For me, there is an incredible and palpable dissonance between sentiments expressed about chronic illness care at ImproveCareNow Learning Sessions and in my own adult medical experiences. The system at play in many adult hospitals is, in various ways, broken and offbeat with patients – nevertheless, it functions ‘well enough’ that it’s left untouched, unchanged, unaffected by the gleaming and exciting collaborative thinkers just an arm’s length away. As someone who has been steeped in medical decision-making literature for the past several years, it feels appalling and shameful to admit that I hand over my care with such frustration and carelessness as I did that Monday. And yet, I’d also like to think that it exemplifies the sheer monstrosity of the challenges and barriers for patients who aspire to be involved in their care. Is that truly such a futuristic ideal? Is there really not room for me in my own care? As a young person with a chronic illness, I have found these types of encounters to be ineffably defeating and disenfranchising – to have to defend yourself, your beliefs, your values, and your preferences to every person in a white coat is offensive. It is as if the doctors claim ownership of your body, as if they can scrape your soul clean, fix your body, and then hand it back to you, as if a disease is your life versus a disease happening in the context of your life.

So what then am I saying about the young child in clinic, who will sit on your exam table, crinkling the thin paper as they climb up? What does all of this have to do with them? Firstly, it is your job – moreover, your responsibility – as clinicians and parents to empower that child in her medical care, to cheer her on, to apply an unwavering commitment and determination in helping her achieve her goals and ambitions. Even though a child does not have the legal ability to choose, there can always be small decisions for them to make (e.g., “Do you want the needle in your left arm or right arm?” or “Which bandage do you want?”). Secondly – and I wish I could say this to every person face-to-face who is reading to convey the seriousness and weight in this – young patients will grow up and will one day be adult patients. Two of the best strengths you can foster in these children are a conviction for medical advocacy and an unbreakable spirit to defend what they believe in. It may sound insignificant or small, but by always instilling a belief of ownership, we are opening the door to true participation in health care.

Because if we don’t tell them, who will?

Jennie

 


Three Stages of an Awesomely Gutsy Learning Session

Patient Advisory Council Members at the Fall 2012 Learning SessionAs Sami and I get super-duper-gutsy-psyched for the ImproveCareNow Fall Learning Session, we thought we’d put together quick snapshots of what an #ICNLS is like from our perspective. And voila, here they are, broken down into ‘Before,’ ‘During,’ and ‘After!

Before:


Sami: The excitement of planning and watching others plan. The Learning Session is a labor of love and - true to ICN's motto of "share seamlessly, steal shamelessly" - so much collaboration goes on behind the scenes in the weeks leading up to the LS. Despite the occasional stress, it's a blessing to be a part of such well-coordinated collaboration. My contributions to the LS are never just 'mine' - they've been shaped by a countless number of collaborators.

Jennie: Out of the mountains of emails and over-excited texts between Sami and I, everything was becoming real as plane tickets were booked and bags were packed. It’s kind of like coordinating a flash mob: dozens and dozens of people, all with the same passion for patient-centered care, group together from all corners of the country, lots of people doing one big dance. A lot of excitement, a smidge of nerves, and so very much gutsiness.

During:


Sami: Connecting with individuals representing all centers and roles within ICN. The PAC reps love meeting you - we want to know how we can best partner with you to meet your needs! I learn as much from casual hallway conversations and introductions at the LS as from the formal plenary and breakout sessions. One year ago, I didn't know my present PAC co-chair until I got off the plane in Chicago - so much can change in one year.
Tweeting, blogging, and sharing what I learn with you!! p.s. anyone can join the LS conversation real-time on Twitter using the hashtag #ICNLS.

Jennie: I remember my very first LS. It was as if I’d known everyone there forever – everyone was incredibly sweet and lovely and thrilled to have myself, Sami, and Jill (our amazing former PAC chair) there. I’ll never forget during the opening reception I was introduced to a few people, first names only, and it wasn’t until my head stopped spinning and I put two and two together that I realized I’d just met the biggest movers and groovers in ICN and the C3N Project. What struck me then was that they were just ordinary people who could hold conversations with me and I wasn’t stuck in some small ‘patient only’ box. The LS truly is an environment filled with excitement, respect, brilliance, compassion, and the unwavering attitude that we can all learn from one another (purposely ignoring the standard hierarchy of doctors versus patients/parents, it is doctors and patients/parents).

After:


Sami: Reconnecting and making plans for collaboration with those I've met over the weekend. The LS is "the charger" of ICN - it propels us through the next six months.
Working through the pages and pages of notes I'll leave the LS with - despite the work involved, the LS is magical because it allows you to come with scraps of ideas and gain the inspiration you need to transform those ideas into reality. Sleeping a little - and dreaming about the next Learning Session!

Jennie: There’s always too much excitement, too many possibilities, and so many new connections leaving the LS to get any sleep on the plane home! And that’s what’s so incredible and indescribable about the LS: we pass around and borrow ideas and fire from one another and there’s always so much to start doing! And importantly for patients and parents, we don’t become forgotten in the months between (we’re not simply a perfunctory part of the LS and then we’re dropped), if anything I’ve seen the commitment to meaningful patient engagement grow each time!



We can’t wait to update you after the LS!  But why wait? Learning Sessions have their own hashtag on Twitter so you can keep up with what's happening. Be sure to follow #ICNLS  – and we’ll be sure to tweet as often as we can!

J + S


Blast from the Past

After a morning GI appointment, my mom wanted to get a coffee before she took me to work. We drove to a local coffee shop and I decided to go in with her to grab a tea. We placed our orders, paid, and as we were leaving, I caught a glimpse of a customer sitting at a table and suddenly recognized him.

 

He was a clinician from my pediatric hospital – someone I had always thought of as particularly kindly, someone who had incredible bedside manner and a great comfort in speaking to me, and someone who I hadn’t seen since high school. Since I knew I would regret it if I didn't, I walked over and said hi. He promptly hopped up from his chair, reaching out his arms for a hug, and asked how I’d been.

 

Blast from the pastIt was this funny moment in which I was no longer a child or a patient but just someone else in a coffee shop - grown, with a hospital ID badge slung around my neck. He couldn’t believe how old I was – “How is it possible you’re done college?” – and grinned at me as I caught him up on my life. I had sent him pictures after I hiked Machu Picchu. He said he’d been to Peru since and thought about me, trying to notice any similarities between my pictures and the Peruvian surroundings. When I told him about graduating with double honors and wanting to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology, he looked at me, smirked, and said, “That does not surprise me one bit.”

 

He said he was going to a meeting with some of my other former clinicians, and asked if he could pass along the full update on me. Of course I said yes, feeling a little like a movie-star that people cared what I was up to. He will always be one of my favorite clinicians. He made me feel as a kid – and in our short coffee shop interaction – like a whole person with more to offer the world than an over-sized medical chart. I believed in myself not only because my parents were supportive, but because at my sickest I had clinicians like him who saw beyond the medicine to the person.

 

Monday was my first day back to work after a two-week hospital stay. I walked into my office, collected hugs from my lovely co-workers, and set about logging onto the computer and catching up on emails. The fabulous boost of seeing that clinician in the coffee shop stayed with me. At one point during the day, I saw a patient for one of our studies. He was a gentleman in his 70’s and was in the surgical clinic with his wife. Before I stepped into the room, I made sure to look through his chart and get a sense of who he was – not just what surgery he was having – so I could be engaging and receptive to him as a person and not solely as a patient. I had the loveliest conversation with him and his wife, going out of my way to be open, respectful, personable, and accessible. For example, in going over the study questionnaires, I wanted to be transparent and would turn the page around to show him and his wife what the pages looked liked, explaining what I was asking and writing down so that it didn’t seem secretive or hidden. He would laugh and noticeably relax, and as they saw me throughout the day, our relationship continued to grow so that when I see him after his surgery, I will be a familiar face.

 

This perhaps seems silly to write a post about. But this is what I hope you've read between the lines – the person inside the patient matters. You never know who’s sitting in front of you, because it’s never just a person of a certain age with a certain disease. Especially in pediatrics, your patients are like caterpillars waiting to become butterflies – you have future doctors and advocates and economists and dancers and athletes and poets in front of you. You have children who are blossoming into themselves, with diverse talents and abilities. As clinicians for children, you have a unique opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with them as they grow emotionally and physically. Your patients will never forget you – good or bad – but why not make the memories they carry with them about how much you supported them?

 

Because who knows, you just might run into them in a coffee shop one day.

 

Jennie


Story of Self | Noel Jacobs

My mother said that when I was in first grade, she knew I would be a psychologist.

I came home from school one day, excited to have my first-grade pictures!  Remember those big sheets that you had to painstakingly cut into little squares? I was proud of my pictures and couldn’t wait to pass them out.


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