I’m Flipped

By Grace O'Sullivan

Grace O’Sullivan is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Project HoneyBee – Center for Sustainable Health, ASU.

When I heard that Flip the Clinic was hitting the road for a series of regional meetings, I was thrilled. Though my residential address is not technically in the Bay Area, my ethos has a local zip code – so away I went!

As a Flip the Clinic Ally, Project HoneyBee has been fortunate to witness Flip the Clinic’s evolution from a conversation (enabled by a really cool website) to a real-world open experiment. That being said, I still didn’t know what to expect from the Lab – except being told to “get ready to roll my sleeves up.”

Turns out that was great advice. Had I known, I would have also given myself the advice to pack comfortable shoes and a Red Bull. Let’s just say that at about 13 hours long, the Lab was not for the weak of heart. Check your platitudes, pessimism, and talking points at the door, people.

With a grand view of the Golden Gate Bridge as the backdrop, and permission to do something different, 40 diverse and talented community members gathered to brainstorm strategies and ideas on how to Flip the Clinic. The room consisted of healthcare professionals, patients, technologists, policy makers…you name it.

The group started by identifying “pinch points” in the system that we have experienced first hand as individuals. This was great for grounding issues in the real world. We grouped pinch points by category, then reassembled to look for strategies to overcome them. Over and over, we were encouraged by our skillful moderators, Reos Partners, to go where we had the energy to contribute/move an idea forward.

By the end of the day we had 8-10 flips that were accompanied by a “What we need/What can I contribute” sign-up sheet. As we broke for some dinner and drinks, a couple dozen more participants from the community joined us. Their fresh set of eyes and perspectives were exactly what we needed after a long day. They respectfully challenged our ideas from the morning session, while providing great feedback, connections, along with their own stories, and how they will contribute.

The Flip the Clinic team will advance some of the flips that were generated from the Lab. As for how the Lab changed my perspective? I realized more than ever before how improvements to patient/provider experiences can have a ripple effect into other areas of healthcare and catalyze better overall outcomes. I saw how if we start with something small, big—seemingly insurmountable forces – can and will be shifted.

What struck me over and over was the amount of talent, energy, empathy, passion, and optimism in the room. My only regret was that I didn’t have time to talk to every person one-on-one. I came out of the Lab with an unshakable belief that together we could have huge and positive impacts on health care. I’m very excited to see how these events will build upon each other and to see what the Flip the Clinic National Innovation Summit will hold. It’s also invigorating to think about how Project HoneyBee can serve as a living laboratory for testing out some of flips generated by the Labs. I suppose that it sounds like I’ve drunk a bunch of Flip the Clinic Kool-Aid, but what can I say? The button on the table was prophetic, “I’m flipped.”

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