Katie Grimm, MD: RightCare Action Week Captain in Buffalo

September 17, 2015

By Margie Coloian

“The work I do must be grounded in the understanding that I’m treating the person with a disease, not the disease alone,” says Katie Grimm, MD. “I truly believe we are losing the ‘person’ in current disease management systems.”

Grimm specializes in palliative care at a safety net hospital in Buffalo, NY, part of a health system associated with SUNY Buffalo. Her work has compelled her to volunteer as a RightCare Action Week Captain this fall. She believes the right care principles have been lost in many healthcare systems where there remains a great emphasis on quality metrics that emphasize getting patients discharged quickly. Often such discharges don’t take into account the next steps for patients who may have barriers to getting and staying healthy.

That’s why Grimm will be focused on taking comprehensive social histories of her patients during the RightCare Action Week, October 18-24. In addition, she will also be conducting a RightCare Rounds, teaching colleagues and trainees the importance of providing the right care to patients, and getting to know patients’ values, needs and wants. Taking a thorough social history gets to that end and goes beyond the typical questions like frequency of alcohol and tobacco use. Instead, she wants to know about the home setting, if the patient has access to prescribed medications, whether the patient lives alone comfortably, or has relatives or friends nearby and has access to nutritional foods.

“When we focus on treatment options alone,” said Grimm, “and not the social history, we don’t see the entire person.”

Grimm also mentors a zealous chief quality resident (a new position) who not only shows great interest in RightCare Action Week, but also has been named to the inaugural class of RightCare Educators at the Lown Institute. Minnu Mudigonda, MD, is thrilled to become involved with right care efforts.

“What I love most about right care,” said Grimm, “is that it focuses not just on overtreatment, but also under-treatment. It means giving value-based care and prevention information that is needed.”

Grimm has great aspirations for the long term goals of the RightCare Alliance. “My utmost hope is that it moves the paradigm as much as it can to an ‘accountable health community’ versus mega institutions that deliver only disease-based care. We need to right size enormously and eliminate commodity-driven care,” she said.