Flip the Clinic is an open experiment to transform the patient-clinician experience. It is where patients and health practitioners improve medical care, together.

We believe that new tools, technologies, and strategies can empower people to be more informed and more engaged in their health care. We believe people desire improved health and the ability to live healthy lives, sharing in setting their health goals and making health decisions.

We believe that all clinicians can improve the ways they involve and communicate with patients before, during, and after these visits. We believe new tools and resources will improve the full experience of clinical appointments, restoring commitment, dedication, and care to health care.

“Flip the Clinic is creating the possibility of a new system. It’s creating a critical moment next to the 20 minute office visit that can be incredibly powerful for the delivery of health care and health.” Atul Gawande

Frequently Asked Questions

Where did the "Flip the Clinic" idea come from?

We were inspired by Sal Khan, the founder of Khan Academy. Early in 2013, Khan visited the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and explained the premise and power of Khan Academy. By putting simple, clear explanations of academic subjects in online videos, Khan Academy has reversed the normal flow of instruction and “flipped the classroom.” During his visit, the similarities between the classroom and the doctor’s office became obvious. We thought, why not Flip the Clinic the way Khan has flipped the classroom?

What, we wondered, would a flipped doctor’s office look like? What would a new doctor-patient encounter involve? Could there be other participants? How could we more effectively leverage the skills of other medical staff in the office as well as the support of family, friends and coworkers outside of it? Would we use video? What other resources can we tap to get more value out of the visit? And how do we bring this new approach to care providers and patients alike?

You can read more about the genesis of the idea here.

Whose project is this?

Flip the Clinic is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation project. We are engaging Reos Partners, a pioneering social innovation consultancy, and Volume Design, the award-winning design firm, to help us bring this project to life. But most importantly, the project involves you - people who care about how we provide care, and are engaged in how we might improve our health.

Why should the doctor’s visit change?

The doctor’s office (or clinic or other care setting) is where health care happens. It remains the essential hub for clinical care. But what occurs in that room isn’t exactly ideal—or even state-of-the-art. The doctor-patient encounter is fraught. Too cursory to be exhaustive (the infamous fifteen-minute median office visit), too infrequent to create an honest relationship (one or two visits a year at best), and too anonymous to be personal (the average primary care doc has more than 2,300 patients), appointments are a high-cost, high-resource encounter with surprisingly limited value and limited returns.

We can do better. We can leverage existing tools and knowledge to create a more symmetrical, more powerful point of care—while also extending provider and patient involvement beyond the walls of one office.

Is this just about doctors? What about nurses?

This project is, first and foremost, about human interactions. We’re all patients at one time or another—and doctors are people and patients, too. But when we say “clinic,” we mean everyone involved in that setting: doctors, nurses, medical assistants, and the front desk staff. Everyone.

What’s the goal here?

Our goal is both to create a specific set of practices that can improve the medical encounter and to inspire others to invent new ways to get more out of the doctor’s visit, too.

What does a flipped doctor’s office look like?

Head over to our Flips page to find out. Know of other examples of Flips out in the world? Share your input here.

Aren’t people already trying to change how patients interact with their doctors?

The short answer: Yes. A lot of tools and ideas behind the Flip the Clinic concept exist. But too often these ideas don’t leave the nest. Not enough people know about them to adopt them. That’s why we hope that FliptheClinic.org can serve as a hub for these ideas as well as a clearinghouse for what works and what doesn’t in the doctor-patient encounter.

Won’t flipping the clinic require more resources — more people, more money, more technology?

The honest answer: we don’t know. But we expect not. By bringing together everyone involved in the interaction between patients and providers, we’ll be able to talk openly about this question. Our theory, though, is that by improving the quality of the interaction, everyone involved will experience more satisfaction with it. Patients will stay healthier, and providers can give better care.

What kind of clinicians would benefit from Flip the Clinic?

Doctors, nurses, physician assistants, dentists, hygienists... And not just clinicians—anyone who interacts with patients.

Is this only about primary care?

Absolutely not. This is about the underpinnings of health care interactions. While we expect the project to yield important insights about ways to improve primary care, we believe most of what we learn will be applicable to all providers, specialties, and care environments.

I’m a care provider — how can I get involved?

You can help by sharing your thoughts. What do you think are some of the best parts of your interactions with patients? What are your pain points? What could we (the collective we) be doing better? Tell us. You can also comment on a Flip already posted or submit your own on the community page.

I’m a patient — how can I get involved?

If you’ve ever been a patient, you’re an expert! We want to hear from you. What drove you crazy about your last doctor’s visit? What did you wish you knew or had when you walked in the door? What about when you got home? Comment on a Flip here, or submit your own.

If you didn't find the answer you needed here, submit your question through our contact form and we'll get back to you.
More FAQs

Flip the Clinic Allies

People Behind Flip the Clinic

Thomas Goetz
Thomas Goetz

Thomas Goetz founded Flip the Clinic when he was serving as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He is also co-founder of Iodine, a health technology company based in San Francisco.

His new book, The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis, will be published by Gotham/Penguin in April 2014. His previous book, The Decision Tree, was chosen by the Wall Street Journal as a Best Health book of 2010, and widely hailed as offering a new vision for health care in the United States. Goetz holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master's in American literature from the University of Virginia.

Eva Starrak
Eva Starrak
Eva Starrak is the Community Manager for Flip the Clinic. Since moving to the DC area in 2007, she has honed her project management and event design skills in the non-profit field, specifically dealing with pediatric health. Eva is passionate about outdoor adventures, photography, and her two Pomeranians.
Michael Painter
Michael Painter

Michael W. Painter, J.D., M.D., is a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In 2003-2004, Painter was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow with the office of Senator William H. Frist, M.D., former majority leader. Prior to that, he was the chief of medical staff at the Seattle Indian Health Board, a community health center serving urban American Indians and Alaska Natives. Painter led that clinic’s award-winning diabetes team. He has a clinical faculty appointment with the University of Washington, Department of Family Medicine. Painter earned a J.D. from Stanford Law School and an M.D. from the University of Washington.

Joe McCarron
Joe McCarron

Joe is a founding member of Reos Partners – a social innovation consultancy that addresses complex, high-stakes challenges around the world. He helps teams of stakeholders create new outcomes to their critical issues in both the public and private sector. Recent projects include: Helping the The Rocky Mountain Institute re-imagine the US energy grid, developing new coalitions for the extractive industries in Africa with The World Bank, helping a Fortune 100 pharmaceuticals company understand the new frontiers of personal medicine, developing collaborative approaches to support early childhood development in Canada.

Prior to co-founding Reos Partners, Joe was Managing Partner of Generon Consulting from 2004 to 2007. Joe spent seven years with Shell International, where he held a variety of technical and commercial positions. Before coming to the energy sector Joe worked as a research scientist for the British Antarctic Survey. Joe has a BA from Oxford University and a PhD from Cambridge University.

Whitney Bowman-Zatzkin
Whitney Zatzkin

Whitney Bowman-Zatzkin, MPA, MSR, is a passionate community architect and the Program Director for Flip the Clinic. She started in healthcare 15 years ago as the manager of a clinical practice, launching its EHR, redesigning the obstetrics patient record, and engaging in state-level advocacy efforts. Moving to DC, she collaborated with policy leaders and advocates to conduct research and enact policy changes around health professions education and health workforce team design. She also headed a grassroots medication adherence project that was commended by the U.S. Surgeon General and multiple Members of Congress. Most recently, she led the TEDMED Great Challenges Program and her portfolio includes funded research with HRSA and multiple publications on health workforce and primary care practice models. Whitney holds a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Survey Research from the University of Connecticut.

Rachel Swaby
Rachel Swaby
Rachel Swaby is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in Wired Magazine, O, the Oprah Magazine, Afar magazine, and on NewYorker.com. She's a fan of infographics, running, and urban exploration.
Volume INC
Volume Inc.

Volume Inc. is an acclaimed design agency founded in 2000 by Adam Brodsley and Eric Heiman. Volume has created branding, identity programs, environments, exhibits, interactive media, films and publishing-related projects for a range of commercial, cultural and social entities including the California Academy of Sciences, the Boy Scouts of America, Castlight Health, Adobe Systems, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Heath Ceramics, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and McSweeney’s/826 Valencia/826 National.

Volume's work has been exhibited, honored by, or published in the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, Eye, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the International Biennial of Graphic Design in Brno, Western Gallery, Communication Arts, Graphis, ID, Step Inside Design, Print, How, Exhibitor, Coupe, Étapes, the Type Directors Club, AIGA, the Western Art Director's Club, the German Design Council, and the 2003, 2005, and 2007 California Design Biennials at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Eric is an Associate Professor of Design at the California College of the Arts (CCA), and his writing has been published in Eye, Emigré, AIGA’s online journal, Voice, and he is a contributing writer to SFMOMA’s Open Space blog.

Advisory Board

Theresa Brown
Theresa Brown
Theresa Brown, BSN, RN, OCN is a working clinical nurse, an New York Times opinion columnist ("Bedside") and the author of Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything In Between, a memoir of her first year of nursing. Theresa came to nursing in mid-life after getting a PhD in English and teaching at Tufts University. Her second book, tentatively titled The Shift, will be available summer 2015. Brown also writes for Scrubs Magazine, CNN.com, American Journal of Nursing and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She has received numerous awards from Schools of Nursing, speaks nationally on topics relating to nursing and health care, and is a member of the National Advisory Council for the Hunter College Center for Health, Media and Policy. A native of Missouri, Brown has a PhD in English from the University of Chicago and taught English for three years at Tufts University. She stayed home with her three children after working at Tufts and was inspired by them to return to school and become a nurse, leaving academia behind. It is a career change she has never regretted.
Adam Dole
Adam Dole
Adam Dole is a Presidential Innovation Fellow working on the MyData Initiatives (Blue Button) at the Department of Health and Human Services. Previously, Adam was an entrepreneur-in-residence at the Mayo Clinic, where he was involved in the strategic planning of new healthcare products and services. His responsibilities included developing new ventures at the intersection of healthcare and technology to expand Mayo Clinic's scope and reach through new business models. While at Mayo Clinic, Adam incubated a digital health startup, Better, funded by Mayo Clinic and The Social+Capital Partnership. Adam also managed Mayo Clinic's relationship and investment strategy with startup accelerator Rock Health. Adam has held previous positions at NASA’s human factors research division and two strategy and innovation consultancy firms, Jump Associates and Method Inc. Adam's non-traditional path to Mayo Clinic was driven by his passion for redefining the healthcare value proposition from its current focus on sick-care to a model focused on consumer value, engagement, and disease prevention. He received a BS in Communications from Syracuse University and an MBA in Design Strategy from the California College of the Arts.
Jordan Shlain
Jordan Shlain
Dr. Jordan Shlain is practicing internist, digital health investor, entrepreneur and a native of San Francisco. In addition to being a full time doctor, the father of 4 and founder of HealthLoop, he is commissioner of the Health Service Systems Board of San Francisco and sits on the board of the bipartisan Washington DC policy think tank, Hope Street Group. While interested in policy, Dr. Shlain takes a very pragmatic approach to how health policy translates and impacts the delivery paradigm; specifically how do digital technologies positively impact patient outcomes and alternative physician payment models. He is on the board of the American Academy of Private Physicians (AAPP) and an active advisor to many digital health companies. He has been named one of the top 100 health care innovators by HealthSpottr and is a frequent speaker at Health 2.0, Rock Health, Economist Big Ideas, Futuremed and UC Berkeley’s PreMed 101. He has been invited to consult with the White House and Veterans Affairs to ensure aligned incentives and quality of care (outcomes) are paramount.
Natasha Gajewski
Natasha Gajewski

Natasha Gajewski is the creative force behind Symple, a symptom journal for iPhone. Diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease in 2010, Natasha needed a simple tool to document how she felt between office visits. Finding no app flexible enough to meet the needs of her rare disease, she built her own. Symple is used by patients around the world and is a featured app in the iTunes app store.

Natasha has been named a 2013 Stanford Medicine X ePatient scholar, TEDMED Front Line Scholar, one of ten Innovators to Follow by the Partners' Center for Connected Health, and a member of the Startup Health Showcase at the mHealth Summit in Washington DC. She and her team have twice won lean startup competitions before judges such as Eric Ries (IMVU, The Lean Startup), Janice Fraser (LUXr) and Tom Eisenmann (HBS).

Natasha is passionate about dignifying the patient's experience of disease, in daily life and the exam room.

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