Elements of a Flipped Clinic Part IV: Transparency

By Flip the Clinic

This post is the fourth in a series focusing on the five elements of a Flipped Clinic. For a bit more background, be sure to check out our first three posts that discuss the Flipped Clinic as people-centered, nourishing, and joyful.

A Flipped Clinic is one that’s transparent. Communication is clear, information is accessible and useable, and in conversation, clinician and patient voices are given equal value.

At Flip the Clinic, we hear about a lot of pinch points revolving around communication. Patients don’t feel like there is a place for the emotions and frustrations that can come along with their illnesses. Furthermore, when they’re reeling from a new diagnosis, it can be hard to absorb the details of a treatment plan—and then they lose convenient access to answers. What’s more, though electronic health records are available for both patients and clinicians, patients often don’t know to ask for copies. There seems to be a wall between a clinician’s information and a patient’s information.

These frustrations have helped inspire the Flip the Clinic community to find new ways to open communication and share information.

One of our earliest Flips, Flip #4, suggests that clinicians place a deck of cards printed with emotional prompts in the waiting room. As patients arrive, they can choose a card that expresses how they feel—nervous, relieved, or frustrated—to discuss with their physicians. This simple change gives patients the space to think about how they feel before they get in the exam room, as well as permission to talk about their emotions, which too often can be an obstacle to better care.

Since then, Flip the Clinic has tackled other ways to make clinics even more transparent though data sharing. In Flip #55, Whitney Bowman-Zatzkin noted that very few patients request copies of their electronic medical records—even though 92 percent of hospitals can provide them within three days of an initial request. When clinicians remind patients that their EHRs are available, they give them the opportunity to become more involved in their own care, and more proactive about planning and decision making down the road.

In Flip #78, a team from the Minneapolis Lab suggested that both doctors and patients have access to on-demand recordings of visits. That way patients who could still be in shock from a new diagnosis can go back and review follow-up instructions, while physicians—who see many, many patients in a day—can review the health plan from the last visit before the next one.

The main goal is to make sure that both clinicians and patients are sharing information that helps keep both parties well informed about health goals and treatment plans, which in turn can help patients take control of their own health.

We’d love to know what you think! What other Flips could we use in the clinic and out of it to make health care a more transparent environment? Stay tuned because we’ll be tackling expansiveness soon.

As a reminder, here are the full 5 Elements of a Flipped Clinic:


People are the heart of health care—and we’re more complex (and interesting!) than a diagnosis or a decision. Goals and values, interests and experiences are valued.


Patients and clinicians feel welcomed and supported both by the clinic’s design and by the entire clinic community.


Providers experience joy and passion in their work daily. Patients find delight in the health care encounter.


Communication is clear, information is accessible and useable, and in conversation, clinician and patient voices are given equal value.


It values the people and places outside the traditional clinic walls that play an important role in a person’s health.