The Planetree Grove: A Virtual Lounge for Physicians
By John Findley, M.D. of Valley View Hospital
One of the greatest threats to the integrity of the medical profession is the unintended loss of our culture. In theory, we are all unified by the desire to take care of the ill. The Hippocratic Oath has been the cornerstone of our professional ethos. Although this had a monumental impact on our approach to the bedside, medicine has evolved such that many of these original tenants need to be redefined in the context of an exceedingly complex health delivery climate. Historically hospitals and physicians have had no particular reason for a shared culture or common narrative. Although their mission may have been initially aligned, their trajectory over time has become further and further displaced. As a consequence patient care potentially suffers in many ways. All would agree that the intention to do no harm must take precedence over all other ambitions. Embarrassingly, analysis such as the landmark 1999 Institute of Medicine study “To Err is Human” and the 2005 follow up report; shed light on the fact that despite remarkable advances, patient safety remains a major concern in 21st century medicine.
In the past there was no impetus to direct or define physician culture. On the surface it appears to be the bi-product of autonomy, individual preference, and the resulting behaviors. However, in the current health care climate we can’t afford not to create some sort of imperative that emphasizes the merits of a well-defined patient centered ethos. It is critical that we don’t collectively overlook the potential consequences of neglecting what we all aspire to do. Never has there been a better time for physicians and hospitals to come together and redefine their ethos in the context of patient quality and experience.
Ultimately, a change in physician culture will require a change in the way we approach the bedside. One that not only embraces the value of evidence based decision making, but also embraces the subtleties of the doctor patient relationship: Listening to every person’s story without distraction in an equitable and timely manner, obtaining evidence based data safely and effectively, acknowledge the situation in the context of the patient’s life and circumstances, openly discussing treatment options in light of patient preference while effectively coordinating quality care in collaboration with all involved caregivers.
Planetree physicians have articulated a desire to be more involved and to be heard. As necessity is the mother of invention, then professional isolation must be the catalyst that sparks the desire to connect. With an ever-growing network of Planetree affiliates the potential to connect physicians, as a global patient-centered community, is remarkable.
To this end, we are excited to announce the development of an inaugural website dedicated solely to physicians, www.planetreegrove.org. Much like the physician lounge of the past this “virtual lounge” will be a unique space for physicians to share, collaborate and inspire. This will serve as a gathering place for the physicians of Planetree to further their understanding of the principles of patient-centered care, advocate best practices, create opportunity for a greater sense of purpose in the daily practice of caring for patients and support one another in the quest to improve both the quality and experience of being cared for. Informed by physicians who have told us they would like to see, we plan to offer a diverse palate of services inclusive of a weekly blog, journal club with a monthly evidence-based article addressing patient centered MD communication and best practices, links to other useful websites, reference list of articles of interest, video lectures of other luminaries speaking about patient-centered care.
We believe that www.planetreegrove.org will be a place that conjures the creative spirit within every caregiver. The template is in place, now we need volunteers to join the Wisdom Council that will bring this into fruition over the next few months.