Sunday, January 06, 2008

Keeping up with Jones

Every now and then, a bright, young, energetic faculty member shows up with an outrageous idea, and we thoughtful, mature, seasoned clinical and administrative leaders say, knowingly, "Sure, go ahead, with our blessings." We know that his or her chances of success are minimal, but we don't have the heart to be discouraging. And then -- of course -- we are proven wrong when the young doctor produces a great success.

Such was the case with Dr. Dan Jones, a surgeon specializing in minimally invasive surgery (MIS). His idea was to create a center for skills training and assessment in MIS, with the thought that surgeons throughout the city would use it to learn and be assessed on a regular basis. His Chief and I, knowing the petty rivalries that exist in this town, knew it was impossible.

So, here we are just a few years later, and the center exists. It is called the Carl J. Shapiro Simulation and Skills Center and is supported by Mr. Shapiro's family foundation, by industry donations, other philanthropy, and the hospital and Harvard Medical School. And, as noted in this recent article by Liz Cooney, it is now an essential part of the surgical training at our hospital. And, people from all over town come to use it, as well. CRICO/RMF, the Harvard-affiliated hospitals’ liability insurer, gives surgeons a $500 voucher for a refresher course and another $500 rebate on their malpractice insurance from CRICO/RMF upon successful completion of the course.

Thanks, Dan, for proving us wrong!


e-Patient Dave said...

As you know, I just love this center, so I also love the news that people are using it and insurers are recognizing its value.

I hope you'll invite more patients to see it before their surgery. For me it was a real confidence builder, even beyond the confidence I already had, and rapidly instilled a sense of awe at what a laparoscopic surgeon has to do, operating with 2D vision instead of 3D.

Me being me, I actually asked my surgeon (who says he teaches there) how many beans he can move, per minute. He said he's never timed himself, but next time he's there he'll try. Haven't heard back from him yet, but I bet I will now! :-)

e-Patient Dave said...

p.s. Now that I think of it, you might consider moving those out-front hands-on training boxes up to the main lobby, or perhaps out to the Starbucks lobby on the same floor, so they get more of the visibility they deserve.

The Starbucks lobby might attract too much abuse among people waiting for buses, so maybe upstairs would be better.

Anonymous said...

"Administrative leaders say, knowingly, "Sure, go ahead, with our blessings." We know that his or her chances of success are minimal, but we don't have the heart to be discouraging."

- This sort of motivating behavior is precisely what sets The BIDMC apart from most academic medical centers - and why business people and not MDs should be in charge of running hospitals.

Anonymous said...

what?? that above comment by 'anonymous' made no sense. he infers that MDs do not encourage innovative thinking

Anonymous said...

I noticed that, too.

Anonymous said...

Read it how you will. The irony is, while hospitals run by bright administrative minds (similar to those at the BIDMC) become more humane institutions, those run by physicians become much less so.

Sorry if can't put any identifying information... Off to see a patient now...

Bernard said...

I'm constantly amazed at the problems folks solve simply because they don't know that it can't be done.

Yesterday I met with Dr. Denise Faustman who is researching a possible cure for type 1 diabetes. When she first announced results in 2001, she was lambasted by researchers in the area. Now it looks as if she may be onto something.

My advice - don't listen too much to the naysayers.

John Sambrook said...

Hi Bernard,

James Cook once wrote:

"Do just once what other's say you can't, and you'll never listen to their limitations again."

I've had this experience many times in my life. Perhaps you have as well.

In my experience, people that are able to do what others say cannot be done are often good at exposing the assumptions that are being made in the problem statement, and then finding a way to invalidate or overcome one or more of them. This often opens the door enough to allow for the development of a novel and powerful solution to the problem.

There is also a kind of positive feedback loop at work in such situations. Sometimes, when people learn that they are not as helpless as they once assumed, they take on other important problems, solve them, and thus continue the cycle of improvement.

Too many people assume that problem solving is some kind of gift that people either have or they don't. This is just not the case at all.


John Sambrook