By Bart Windrum
March 17, 2015
In December 2013 I attended my first Lown Institute conference. That theme was From Avoidable Care to Right Care. Even though I knew that the group embraced “slow medicine” values, I didn’t really get their essence until hearing Dr. Bernard Lown’s keynote in which this now-frail, iconic man (who reminded me in several ways of my deceased father: similar in appearance, similarly intelligent and inventive, both their families having originated in the same area of eastern Europe) blasted the medical-industrial complex in unflinching terms. Eventually I spoke up, sharing my newfound discovery and assessment of this “radical medical cohort” as “heirs to the Sons of Liberty.” (I wrote up my experience at that conference here.)
So I was happy to hear the moniker “radical” spoken from the stage in an early keynote during the March 2015 conference (theme: Road to RightCare: Engage, Organize, Transform). I had gone to San Diego intending to expand upon my original insight, suggesting that in order to continue to claim the radical label people would need to take action. It turned out that there was no need for me to say that because the focus this round included a nascent pivot toward action (more on this later).
Structurally, day one presented keynotes and plenaries, day two focused on workshops, and day three exhorted us to action. One night Lown hosted an invitation-only “councils” dinner in which a dozen or so councils (by speciality or area of interest) brainstormed possible future actions to exemplify and promote RightCare principles. For example, doctors making house calls; the end-of-life council crafting and the Institute publishing responses to factually erroneous articles. (The Institute has designated October 2015 as the timeframe for a week of RightCare action.)
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