Putting the Idea to the Test

By Thomas Goetz

In September 2013 – a little more than a year ago – the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation started Flip the Clinic with a conversation. We gathered at RWJF HQ in Princeton, bringing a dozen smart folks from various corners of the health and health care world – including patients – and asked them to how we could do things differently. How could we rethink the routine doctor’s visit to be a more fruitful, more fulfilling part of health care?

To be honest, that conversation was all we had in mind at the time. But the ideas that Flip the Clinic sparked proved bigger than we’d expected, and we realized that there might be more to this. We spent the next year gathering many powerful ideas together at FliptheClinic.org, and now, with the generous support of the Foundation still at our backs, we’re beginning a second year of exploration. We’re shifting Flip the Clinic from a conversation to an open experiment, where we aim to enlist hundreds of people nationwide in trying to see how we can improve the clinical encounter.

What’s an open experiment? It’s a way for us to admit up front that we don’t have the answers. We know there’s a need out there, and we know lots of worthy practitioners want to change their practices, and legions of patients are eager to change their role in their care. But we can’t say we have a validated, airtight model for how that happens. Rather, Flip the Clinic is a community that agrees there’s a need for change, has the capacity to do it, and an opportunity to figure it out in the real world in real time. In Flip the Clinic we have permission to try, permission to experiment with different strategies and to enlist various stakeholders to build on the library of tools at FliptheClinic.org with new ideas and strategies.

So this year we’re going local. We’re hosting a series of workshops around the country – in San Francisco, Miami, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Durham, and Austin – where we will gather local leaders and stakeholders from across the health care world: providers and hospitals and local companies and (so importantly) individuals who bring a patient’s perspective. Our aim is to share our ideas, but also to leverage theirs – to enlist them in the project and see what works. Each workshop will build on the next, so that with the sixth one we should be sharing what we’ve learned along the way.

This will culminate next fall in a national summit where we’ll gather around 300 leaders to share what we’ve learned and to see if we can scale Flip the Clinic even more.

We need your help in tapping local networks in our target cities. If you’re in one of these communities, who must be at the table? What are the opportunities and challenges in these communities that a reconsidered doctor’s visit can address? If you know who needs to be at the national summit, speak up. If you want to participate yourself, you can register here. If you want to share the news with your other networks, please do.

We’re thrilled to have a second big year ahead of us – with your help we’ll flip clinics from coast to coast.

Photo credit Nan Palmero