Frequently Asked Q’s

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 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.

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