On June 16, 2011, leaders of many of our greatest health care membership organizations were assembled in Washington, DC, for the Partnership for Patients kickoff meeting. What was different was that a pleasant woman at the back of the room was quietly brushing strokes onto a beautiful painting that evolved while speakers delivered their messages. No one realized she was a focal point of the meeting until she was called up to the podium. The following was a portion of her story:
"My name's Regina Holliday and I'm a wife, an artist, and a mother; and I have a child with special needs;
and I had a wonderful husband named Fred Holliday; and he was a professor at American University. He started
having pain in January 2009, and it was in his ribs. Then he had pain in February 2009, and it was in his
back. He kept going back to the doctor and they kept giving him pain meds. Then, finally, on March 25, he
was hospitalized and he had tests. And two days later, he called me at work and he said, 'Reggie, they
were just in my room and they told me I have tumors and growths. Can you please come here as soon as you
can because I don't understand what's going on.' And I did; and I left; and by the time I got there,
the oncologist had left town for a medical conference and was gone for 4 days where we couldn't get
information or access to his record. So I went around for weeks asking for information and no one gave
us very much. And finally, I went down to medical records and asked for a copy of his medical record,
just so we could understand what was going on. I was told it would be a 21-day wait and 73 cents per page.
The very next day, the oncologist came into his room and said, 'We're going to send you home on a PCA pump.'
I knew what that meant, and so did my husband. So, we burst into tears, and the doctor left. I spent the
next 5 days trying to get to another facility just so we could get a second opinion. When we were transferred,
we were sent with an out-of-date and incomplete medical record and transfer summary, which meant the new
facility could not provide care for six hours as they tried to
recreate it using a phone and a fax machine. They couldn't even feed him. I had to go down to the
local pizzeria and get him a slice of pizza just so he could eat. The next day, the doctor sent me
back to the first facility and asked me to get an entire copy. As the courier of my husband's medical
record, I got it and gave it to them. They read it for an hour, gave it back to me, and then I read it. It
was full of actionable data that if I could only have seen it, he would have had better care. Then,
we took that data, and my husband and I decided we would do everything we could to make life
better for others. I began painting about it all throughout the streets of Washington, DC. And
that is why I do what I do—for my husband and for everybody else, because nobody should
have to suffer as we did. And I want everybody to remember, we are all patients in the end and
we all deserve dignity and respect."
(Regina Holliday, oral communication, June 16, 2011)1
When Dr Don Berwick,
the leader of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), invited Regina Holliday
up to the front of the room, no one anticipated what would
happen. Few realized that they would become part of a world-class social entrepreneurship initiative that some later referred
to as an "altar call" where they made public "commitments and
requests" to mobilize their organizations.
Health care is often defined as an unsustainable proposition—one of infinite demand and finite resources. Many "experts" say
that we can never catch up with the exponentially growing needs
of an aging population, coupled with relentless innovation of
costly new care methods. Given this hypothesis, many believe
that we have only one option: cut benefits to cut costs.
Dr Berwick believes that we have an alternative—that is,
improvement. We have two options: to cut ... or improve.
"The bad news is that improvement is harder than making
pure cuts; however, it is better for everyone and far cheaper in the
long run." (Donald Berwick, MD, oral communication, June 16,
The old-guard experts fail to recognize a vast untapped source
of power: the human spirit. One of our country's greatest industrialists,
CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, says (Robert
Chapman, oral communication, June 22, 2011) of our workforce,
"We have rented their hands forever when they will
give us their hearts and minds for free...all we need
to do is ask...and show them we REALLY care."
This is a renewable natural resource. We have harnessed this
source of energy in the past; however, it must be ignited by leaders.
Consumers also represent a huge untapped resource. Regina
Holliday and an army of consumer champions, active in social
media, have proven that patients and families in our communities
are also willing to mobilize...and in their case, again, all we have
to do is ask. This spells infinite impact!
A CALL TO ACTION—KEY QUESTIONS
This article is a call to action for leaders at all levels to "get
into the game" of the Partnership for Patients. Our country depends on it.
This means you—trustees, CEOs and officers, midlevel managers, and front-line caregivers. It means the CFOs in
the community—the chief family officers who make the major
health care decisions for their families.
The key questions about the Partnership for Patients are as
- Who leads it?
- What is the Partnership?
- Why is it important to me?
- Where do I start?
- How do I succeed?
We address these questions below to help health care leaders
get a running start at the partnership.
WHO LEADS IT
If 27 years of entrepreneurial experience have taught me
anything, it has been that the success of any venture is as much
about the team as the product.
I would have never predicted, as a supporting cast member
on Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) performance improvement teams in the late 1990s, that those in the room would
become central pillars of the global patient safety community.
Who would have thought that the work of
Dr David Classen
would have become the Global Trigger Tool2
and that our work
with Dr Classen, Dr David Bates, and others would have evolved
into the CPOE Flight Simulator which measures the performance
of computerized prescriber order entry systems now being installed in US hospitals?3
Even more unimaginable was that some would become
leaders of CMS and that the very financial security of our nation
depends on the programs they lead. So what kind of people are
they—bureaucrats, academics, or what?
Dr Berwick, described by a Wall Street Journal editor as
a true quality evangelist and later to me as the north star of
health care, needs no introduction. "He, as a single individual,
has had more impact on global health care than anyone in the
world" (Bernard Wysocki, oral communication, June 1, 2002).4
Growing up on military bases and then as the son of a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) rocket
scientist during the moon race, I was taught that public service is a
calling and that partisan politics was not a luxury that our family
could afford. Having worked closely with the last 4 administrations, regardless of the party in control, this author has found the
public attacks on Dr Berwick about as credible as the theatrics of
wrestlers on television. The value of the content is about the same;
and simply put, with health care and the country in serious jeopardy, risking global financial destabilization, Dr Berwick is a great
leader and the ONLY choice for the CMS helm. Knowledgeable
honest experts agree, regardless of political persuasion. After Dr
Berwick's appointment, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius shared,
(Kathleen Sebelius, oral communication, May 1, 2010) at a Washington, DC event, "We needed a game-changer and
Dr Berwick is a game-changer."
Ever the humble and deferential leader, with more quality awards than anyone on the globe, Dr Berwick describes
those to lead the Partnership as a "varsity team." They are
Joe McCannon, formerly of the IHI,
Dennis Wagner, and
Dr Paul McGann.5
Joe McCannon, the youthful and deceptively humble special assistant to Dr Berwick, is well known to many of us as
the leader of the IHI 100,000 Lives Campaign that ultimately
saved more than 122,000 lives in an 18-month period.6
led the IHI 5 Million Lives Campaign, which addressed some
of the very same target areas as the Partnership for Patients,
such as health care-associated infections,7
which have been
found by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to cause
almost 100,000 deaths per year.
His background is in business
and technology as a leader of a successful consulting firm in
the Boston area, with experience in the software industry, and
in publishing with organizations such as Fast Company and The
Driving home the importance of action at the meeting, he shared an expression he often uses to inspire his
team to act: "Strategy is for amateurs,
logistics are for professionals."10,11
The co-directors of the CMS Partnership for Patients
Campaign, appointed by Secretary Sebelius, are Dennis Wagner,
who has been the acting director and associate deputy director of the Office of the Center for Standards and Quality Measures at CMS, and Dr Paul McGann, who has been acting
chief medical officer and assistant chief medical officer of
CMS. They bring a wealth of know-how, tremendous energy,
and dedication to this critical job.
Dennis Wagner, a seasoned leader, is acknowledged to be
one of the greatest social entrepreneurs in the world. This author has worked with him for almost a decade and witnessed
amazing results through just 4 of his leadership initiatives, including the 100% Access Zero Disparities Program,
during the Clinton administration, which has saved millions of
dollars; as the director of the Organ Donation Breakthrough
which led to more than 10,000 lives and likely
billions of dollars saved during the Bush administration; as the
Health Resources and Services Administration's director of the
Patient Safety and Clinical Pharmacy Services Collaborative,
which is focused on medication safety; and most recently
working with the nation's Quality Improvement Organizations,
aligning the forces of savings through safety with the Partnership for Patients.
Partnered with Dennis Wagner is Dr Paul McGann, a brilliant physician with deep data analytics competencies, who
has practiced as a geriatrician; so he is ideally suited to co-lead
the Partnership. His amazing grasp of data and the intricacies
of government measures and performance during 11 years of
service to CMS harnesses the core content areas critical to fuel
the guided missile of improvement that is targeting the front-line
quality gaps of the Partnership.
Finally, John O'Brien, PharmD, MPH, the field director for
the Partnership for Patients, has a terrific background in clinical,
commercial, and government sectors, which is complimented
by a rare understanding of the potential for social media as a
bridge to great care.
Hardly a gang of academics or slow-walking bureaucrats,
this team of "game changers" intends to fulfill the vision articulated by Dr Berwick (oral communication, June 16, 2011)—that
"CMS will become a major force and a trustworthy
partner for the continual improvement of health
and healthcare for all Americans."
If values were genes and behaviors were traits, the CMS
values genes are "boundarilessness, speed and agility, unconditional teamwork, valuing innovation, and customer focus."
Watching these values genes expressed through the behavior
traits of these leaders is more like watching a high-paced startup
rather than what you would expect from typical executives
running the world's largest insurance company. Word to the wise:
lead, follow, or get out of the way—they are now rolling.
WHAT IS THE PARTNERSHIP?
Secretary Sebelius and Dr Berwick announced the Partnership for Patients, with stakeholders from all sectors, on April
12, 2011, by national webinar.
The Partnership focuses on the same target areas as the
National Quality Forum Safe Practices for Better Healthcare,
which we have helped support and are the most vetted and
evidence-based practices developed. Incidentally, they both
found their origins through many of the IHI collaboratives that
the national community helped develop.
The Partnership for Patients brings together leaders of
major hospitals, employers, physicians, nurses, and patient advocates, along with state and federal governments in a shared
effort to make hospital care safer, more reliable, and less costly.
At the date of the meeting, 9 weeks after the original announcement, the Partnership already had more than 3000 pledge signatures from physicians, nurse groups, consumer groups, and
employers and included more than 1700 hospitals. The public
and private partners will develop models to deliver better care
for patients that can be shared widely. The Web site for Partnership for Patients can be found at:
The overarching goals of this new partnership are to:
- Keep patients from getting injured or sicker. By the end of
2013, preventable hospital-acquired conditions would decrease by 40% compared to those in 2010. Achieving this
goal would mean approximately 1.8 million fewer injuries to
patients, with more than 60,000 lives saved during 3 years.
- Help patients heal without complication. By the end of 2013,
preventable complications during a transition from one care
setting to another would be decreased, such that all hospital readmissions would be reduced by 20% compared to
2010 numbers. Achieving this goal would mean more than
1.6 million patients will recover from illness without having
a preventable complication requiring rehospitalization within
30 days of discharge.
Partnership for Patients—Areas of Focus
The Partnership will pursue the reduction of all-cause harm.
The high-priority areas will be the following:
- Adverse drug events
- Catheter-associated urinary tract infections
- Central line-associated bloodstream infections
- Injuries from falls and immobility
- Obstetrical adverse events
- Pressure ulcers
- Surgical site infections
- Venous thromboembolism
- Ventilator-associated pneumonia
- Other hospital-acquired conditions
The Partnership for Patients also focuses on care transitions, which link patients between acute care settings and longterm care, rehabilitation, or their homes. Efforts identified to
reduce readmissions will focus on ensuring that patients get
the right care as plans are made for their discharge and post-discharge period.
Cost and Funding for Partnership for Patients
Nearly 1 in 7 Medicare beneficiaries is harmed during the
course of their care, which costs the government nearly $4.4 billion
in health care spending. The personal costs to patients of extended
hospital stays and time away from work are untold. The status quo
costs a lot—and it is unsustainable for Medicare, for employers,
and for the budgets of patients and their families. To address this very costly problem, the Department of Health and Human
Services will use $1 billion made available through the Affordable
Care Act. Other members of the Partnership for Patients—private
and public, present in the meeting on June 16, 2011—committed
to devote additional resources to supporting care improvement,
and this will be encouraged.
According to CMS, achieving these goals will save lives
and prevent injuries to millions of Americans and has the potential to save up to $35 billion across the health care system,
including up to $10 billion in Medicare savings during the next
3 years. During the next 10 years, it could reduce costs to
Medicare by about $50 billion and result in billions more in
Medicaid savings. This will help put our nation on the path
toward a more sustainable health care system.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO ME?
Health care and hospital CEOs have led through the "no
margin–no mission" era where cost containment was the best
course for survival. Now that the "no outcome–no income tsunami" is striking their shores, they are entering a new era requiring new knowledge, skills, and engagement of their teams.
The sweet spot of high performance is at the intersection
of leadership, practices, and technologies: engaged leaders, safe
practices that deliver predictable outcomes, and technologies
that enable them.
The Intersection of Leadership, Practices and Technologies
In previous articles, we have stated that quality, cost, value,
speed, and trust are intrinsically interlocked and tightly coupled
and that we can only defy the business laws of gravity for a time.
Time in health care has been measured in glacial minutes up until
now. However, like a ball being thrown in the air, what goes up
must come down. The zenith of blind health care spending has
been reached and our ball—even our whole ball game—is on a
crash course with reality.
Health care harm has easily become the third leading cause
of death in America, behind heart disease and cancer, with hospital accidents becoming a
major source of attention. In his introduction of the Partnership, Dr Berwick referred to the report
by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health
and Human Services, published in November 2010, that 1 in 7
Medicare beneficiaries was harmed.
The result of this report
has been a wakeup call to the nation's leaders. The bad news
was compounded by the report in the New England Journal of
Medicine that one of our more progressive states has not improved during a 5-year period despite aggressive safety efforts
and that even exemplary hospitals have a much higher rate of
health care harm than previously believed.
At the meeting, Debra Ness, president of the National
Partnership for Woman and Families, gave an overview of the
Campaign for Better Care,
which is a multiyear initiative to
improve the way health care is delivered to older patients with
multiple chronic conditions and their family caregivers. She provided well-documented evidence for the magnitude of health care
harm to Americans and defined why hospitals are risky places for
- About 1 in 20 patients gets an infection each year while receiving medical care.
- An estimated 1.7 million health care-associated infections occur each year in hospitals, leading to about 100,000 deaths.
- Patients who contract infections in hospitals are much more
likely to be readmitted.
- Medicare patients acquiring infections are more likely to be
readmitted than those without infections. In 2007, about 45% of patients with hospital-acquired infections were 65 years
- The mean length of stay among patients who acquired an
infection during their hospital stay was 21.6 days. The mean
length of stay for patients who did not acquire an infection
was 4.9 days.28
- When older patients move from one care setting to another,
the lack of coordination among providers can place these
patients at risk for losing needed services, duplication of services, conflicting treatments, and increased stress.
- Only 42% of older adults receive some postacute care services after discharge from the hospital.
- Older patients, African American patients, lower-income patients, and patients with serious chronic conditions are more
likely to have complicated transitions of care, which can lead
to readmissions to hospitals.
- Driven largely by poor discharge procedures and inadequate
follow-up care, nearly 1 in every 5 Medicare patients discharged from the hospital is readmitted within 30 days, and
34% are rehospitalized within 90 days.
- African American beneficiaries and those eligible for both
Medicare and Medicaid (many of whom are African American)
seem to be at higher risk for readmissions, particularly for
stroke, diabetes, and asthma.
- Contributing to their increased risk
is the fact that African
American and Hispanic patients have a higher prevalence and
incidence of cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer
disease than do white patients.
Dementia or other cognitive
impairment makes caring for patients with chronic conditions
- Preventable hospital readmissions cost the United States an
estimated $25 billion annually.
MedPAC estimated that in
2005, readmissions cost the Medicare program $15 billion—$12 billion of which could have been prevented.
recent estimates suggest that unplanned readmissions cost
Medicare more than $17 billion a year.
Patient safety experts are no longer the only ones who
know the numbers—media, consumers, and legislators feel
the crisis brewing. It is becoming common knowledge that
trustees governing our hospitals and health care systems have
been behind the curve on performance shortfalls. Even the
bottom 10% in quality believe they are average or even above
If you are a trustee, CEO, CFO, quality officer, midlevel
manager, or front-line caregiver, this program is for you. The
music has stopped, blind health care purchasing is over, and
we are going to be accountable for quality. Financial leaders
may indeed become the new heroes of survival if they learn to
lead value-based decision making. Value-based purchasing is
here, requiring value-based investment in safety.
The Greenlight Network, comprising leading hospitals such as
the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Ascension Healthcare, and Catholic Healthcare Partners, is
tying down the important factors to the cost of harm and savings
The Cost of Harm and Savings Through Safety
They are defining the givens, assumptions, and variables
that front-line hospital leaders need to make prudent investments
in quality. The numbers are there.
We have reported the work of others who have documented the enormous cost of harm and savings through safety
that can be generated:
- About 60% of hospitals' costs are generated by readmitted
patients, yet readmissions occupy only 1 of 6 beds
- Sixty seven percent of seniors admitted with a medical diagnosis are either readmitted or dead within 1 year of
- Modest expenditures of approximately $50 of staff time at
discharge of a patient generate more than $412 in savings to
We will soon document the details regarding the "cost of
harm and savings of safety factors" as a work product of the
Greenlight Network efforts.
For instance, Dr Stephen Grossbart,
of Catholic Healthcare Partners, one of our nation's best quality leaders, reported,
at a Greenlight meeting and webinar, held on October 28, 2011,
at the National Press Club, that a 2009 analysis of more than
214,000 discharges in a multihospital system found that 50 to
60 patients must be treated without harming them to generate
the excess funds to pay for one who is harmed. This has to be a
WHERE DO I START?
If you are a hospital or health care CEO or a trustee, you
need to make sure you are signed on to the Partnership. The web
link to sign up for the Partnership can be found at: www.healthcare.gov.
If you have not already signed up, now is the time, because
the no outcome–no income tsunami is here. In previous articles,
we have used the tsunami and surfing metaphors to capture your
attention and illustrate basic principles. There will be surfers
who leverage the power of the wave and make things happen,
swimmers who will capsize and watch what happened, and
sinkers who do not survive and wonder what happened.
politics, health care is dictated by local forces that vary. However, to most of us who have been paddling around our local
ponds for years, the first waves of real value-based purchasing
will really seem like a tsunami. To play out the surfing metaphor,
you can apply basic fundamentals of surfing and the principles of
greatness to hospital leadership and performance.
Surfing basics require the following:
- Understanding of the direction, force, and shape of the wave
- A steerable solid platform that will provide lift and forward
- Skills to smoothly propel the platform forward to match the
speed and direction of the wave
- Ability to stand and balance the platform while controlling its
Great hospitals that have prioritized quality create unified
safety platforms similar to surfboards that can achieve like a
surfboard and can achieve real lift out of the chaos. They clearly
have an understanding of the waves coming and are well positioned to take advantage of the new forces. Most importantly, they
have been practicing and improving at improving. Like the seasoned surfer, they have put in the thousands of hours and made
many thousands of attempts at riding waves. Thus, they have been
building reliable skills at propelling themselves forward and balancing the forces of gravity and the waves.
Our recommendations are to START NOW.
Assemble a team; don't staff it out; don't create death by delegation, or allow participation in this
initiative to be "slow-walked" to failure.
It is time for the C-Suite, the board of trustees, quality and
safety leaders, and front-line representatives to get in the game.
Most of all, bring patients into the loop.
one of our nation's foremost patient advocates, provided these words
(Trisha Torrey, oral communication, June 18, 2011) of wisdom: "Caregivers must build new bridges to their
patients; and the invisible mortar of those structures
will be trust that we earn through transparency."
HOW DO I SUCCEED?
A universal finding is that great organizations have great
leaders and that great leaders inspire and design organizations
to behave consistently with a set of core values. The greatest
organizations seem to unleash the talents within their people
when they aspire to accomplish the most noble of objectives.
When they close the 18-inch journey between the heart and the
head, they move the hands to action and the lips to spread the
word of celebration.
At the meeting, Dr David Pryor, chief medical officer
of Ascension Healthcare, presented updates to their extraordinary results, previously reported by us,
when they decided to set
out a bold 5-year plan of "No needless death. No needless
harm"; and they distributed countdown clocks to each leader that
counted down days to the end of the 5-year period. Before the
clocks ran out, Ascension had met its goal.
Dr Pryor attributes
the success to living their core values, and that meeting their
goals was a "mission imperative."
The Ascension performance
results and those for amazing state-wide successes reported by
Rick Foster, senior vice president of quality and safety at the
South Carolina Hospital Association, provided a perfect lead-in
to Joe McCannon, who inspired the audience by describing
the characteristics of successful high-performing organizations.
McCannon addressed 10 things that organizations can do to
make meaningful change. He listed these characteristics of
successful organizations to help the audience understand what it
will take to become a winner in the new era of value-based
- They have shared, crisp, public aims, owned by leadership.
- They welcome everyone.
- They get to the field.
- Their work is rooted in actions and transactions (value).
- They are "brutally opportunistic."
- They play well with levers.
- They operate a "recognition economy."
- They have a shared story and they use the language of
creation (not avoidance).
- They examine and revise their rules base.
- The patient is in the room...always.
McCannon used Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in
Northern California as an example of winning behaviors.
"When I walked into the lobby, I saw run charts and control
charts for every adverse event that they're targeting, about 15
adverse events. I saw all-cause harm rates, risk-adjusted mortality, right there for anyone who comes into the hospital to
see. That's leadership. That's holding ourselves to aims. That's
about results. They welcome everyone. So these initiatives that
really succeed don't say 'we're really only interested in working
with certain people.' And they also don't hold the initiative by
the throat. They don't say, 'These are the things we're going
to do, here's the program, here's the set of activities.' They trust
the field. They devolve control. They unleash, to use a term
that our CTO at Health and Human Services often uses. They
unleash all of the potential on the field. We get maybe 5% or
10% of the potential if we try to dictate what's going to happen. If we tap into what's out there and unleash it, we get
much, much more. They get to the field. They understand that
the change isn't happening in here. It's happening right now
in an intensive care unit in Texas. It's happening right now in
a step-down unit in Portland. Those are the places we need
to go. That's where we'll do our learning. That's where we'll
do our listening and that's where we'll drive our change. They
understand that the work is rooted in actions and transactions."
(Joe McCannon, oral communication, June 16, 2011)
On June 20, 2011, the Partnership for Patients' first webinar
was broadcast worldwide and served as an introduction to the
patient safety initiative. It was organized by
Dr Gary Kaplan,
the president and CEO of Virginia Mason Hospital and Medical
Center in Seattle, which was recognized in 2010 as the Hospital
of the Decade by the Leapfrog Group. He spoke of the lessons
they had learned, which resonated with McCannon's message.
He referred to a favorite quote: "In times of change, learners inherit the earth while
the learned find themselves beautifully equipped
to deal with a world that no longer exists."
In the same webinar, Dr John Toussaint, MD, another national
quality leader who formerly served as president and chief executive officer of ThedaCare, Inc, a community-owned, 4-hospital
health system, founder and now president of the Center for
Healthcare Value, a performance improvement organization, reinforced (John Toussaint, MD, oral communication, June 18,
2011) the characteristics of those who succeed: "There are two words people have to remember on
the improvement journey—they are humility and perseverance. We trained and trained and trained
some more ... in real-time improvement work."
A final thought (Thomas Zeltner, MD, oral communication,
June 18, 2011) on characteristics of those who will win in the
future comes from a colleague and cofounder of the Global
Patient Safety Forum in Geneva, and the former Health Minister
Dr Thomas Zeltner, MD.
"Rather than keep the old world thinking alive,
it will be important to adopt the new world
thinking of the digital age."
He draws our attention to the recent report by the World
Economic Forum entitled, The Future of Government: Lessons
From Around the World, which proposes that leaders must stay
relevant by being responsive to rapidly changing conditions and
citizens' expectations and build capacity to operate effectively
in complex, interdependent networks of organizations and systems that coproduce public value. This report states that organizations need to be
FAST: Flatter, Agile, Streamlined
We agree with Dr Zeltner that these characteristics are
precisely what our hospitals and health care organizations need
to adopt to win in the new value-based environment. Social
media will clearly be a tool of the future.
As the meeting progressed to a close, led by Dennis Wagner
and Paul McGann, they inspired the process of "offers and
requests" with audience members taking the microphone and
committing their resources and will. These novel tools of social
entrepreneurship that were so powerfully used in the organ
donorship program and other initiatives appealed to the better
angels in the hearts of the audience and defeated the devils
of procrastination and skepticism lurking in the subconscious
minds of these future Partnership for Patients.
As the commitments of organizations continued to build,
many of the audience commented that they had not expected to
come to an "altar call," humorously alluding to the evangelical
nature of the day. They were surprised by their own "offerings"
that were compelled and moved by the power of the messages.
The audience was struck all day by the deep humility
expressed by the CMS leadership team that Jim Collins—author
of Good to Great—would describe of "level 5 leaders" and the
kind we only uncommonly see in politicians.
they expressed their regret for not having invited more patient
advocates and not having invited them earlier in the process.
They challenged the audience not to make the same mistake.
At the end of the meeting, Regina Holliday was invited up
to the front of the room to present her painting, which she entitled "Partnership WITH Patients" (Fig. 1). She expressed that
the Partnership For Patients logo depicted a caregiver doing
something TO a patient rather than working WITH a patient. She
redesigned the caregiver listening to the patient's heart while the
patient was embracing the physician and providing emotional
support. She made the faces real, rather than the faceless images
so often depicted in electronic medical record avatar graphics
that can feel cold and impersonal to many patients. Above the
physician and patient, she painted the symbol for infinity as a
cloud floating in the sky. This represented the infinite relationship between provider and patient and also the infinite possibilities of cloud technology, communicating her passion for how
proper use of health information technology could have changed
the end of her husband's life and could change the lives of so
(Click to Enlarge)
Partnership WITH Patients by Regina Holliday.
Within the painting, she captured the dual goals of the
Partnership for Patients: a 40% reduction in hospital-acquired
conditions and a 20% decrease in readmissions by 2013. These
are depicted as children's slides on a playground. A joyous
physician is sliding down the 40% reduction slide. A patient is
waving and looking over her shoulder at patients far off in the
There is a smart phone in the hand of the patient. This
patient is "live tweeting" through the social network, Twitter,
during her appointment. She represents the spread of the power
of the patient's voice and how she will communicate it through
social media. There is a belt in the background of the painting,
and people standing beyond the belt are not part of the conversation; however, they wish to join. They are depicted to be "outside the Beltway," referring to the community of Washington, DC.
There is a feeling of hope within the painting meant to express
that social media will be soon be part of the conversation and
Regina Holliday closed with her 2 critical messages: First,
that patients are a valuable resource to both their care team and
national policy development. (They need to be invited into the
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She got a standing ovation from the leaders in the room who
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