Flip No. 33

Provide context, improve understanding, and generate empathy between physician and patient

Launch a Twitter campaign (#IWishMyDoc and #IWishMyPatient) to increase shared understanding and publish the results.

By Stacey Tinianov

Developed at Flip the Clinic Lab: San Francisco

Although whole health and wellness is the goal for both physicians and patients, we occasionally seem disconnected from—or even at odds with—each other. A health care provider’s best intentions can be crushed by time constraints. A patient’s desire to be well can get lost in the mix of misunderstanding. If you could openly offer any suggestion to your physician, what would it be and why? If you could kindly suggest something that could improve your patient’s time in the clinic or overall health, what would you tell them? I wish our pediatrician emailed a health questionnaire prior to my children’s annual appointments. I wish my doctor had asked me about the types of leisure activities I enjoy and/or my favorite ways to reduce stress before he shared the tumor board’s recommendation of a mastectomy. In an effort to help provide context, improve understanding, generate empathy, and drive a change in behaviors between physician and patient, let’s make these wishes visible.


Starting in February, 2015, with the hashtags, #IWishMyDoc and #IWishMyPatient, several of the participants from the San Francisco Flip the Clinic Lab launched a respectful conversation on Twitter—with health, wellness, and shared understanding at the center—aimed at bridging the gap between a patient and physician.

Below is the strategy that team deployed: 

Everyone is eligible to participate and everyone can learn. Patients, physicians, family members, pharmacists, surgeons, nurses, caretakers, phlebotomists—anyone who sees a patient under the auspices of healthcare or is themselves a patient or a patient support—what are their wishes?

Sample tweets to get started included:

  • #IWishMyDoc had puzzles in the oncology waiting room, would be a wonderful distraction
  • #IWishMyDoc sent me a “How Are You?” email in between my 6-month follow-ups, it opens a door for questions.
  • #IWishMyPatient would leverage phone appointments more often.
  • #IWishMyPatient shared more about their priorities so I could help them navigate more personalized treatment paths

Originally, this idea was focused on a hashtag campaign via Twitter. However, if a set of “wishes” don’t fit snuggly into 140 Twitter characters, participants were encouraged to try Facebook or Instagram. By tagging the entry with #IWishMyDoc or #IWishMyPatient, responses from every platform were able to be collated and shared back with the greater Flip the Clinic community.

Active online communities and twitter chats, such as the Lung Cancer Social Media (#LCSM), were approached about hosting a focused dialog on the project. 

6 weeks after the San Francisco Lab, an initial collection of responses will be reviewed and analyzed by the Flip Team.