September 21, 2016 (Boston, MA) – Physicians, nurses and other clinicians have known for generations that listening is the bedrock of good health care. But these days, finding time to listen fully to a patient’s history and concerns has become nearly impossible, a trend that’s more than just frustrating. It’s dangerous. That’s why the Lown Institute has teamed up with more than a thousand clinicians, as well as members of the public, to promote listening during the second annual national Right Care Action Week, October 16-22.
Right Care Action Week is a national initiative organized by the Right Care Alliance, a network of activists affiliated with the Lown Institute. The network is comprised of clinicians, patients and community leaders who recognize the epidemic of overuse and underuse in health care and feel a moral responsibility to act.
Anyone can participate in RCAW activities planned for the week, either on a single day or throughout the week. The activities are:
Listening Booths: Clinicians and non-clinicians can set up a table in public places such as parks and other public grounds and ask passersby to talk about their experiences with health care and their broader thoughts about our health care system.
Story Slams: Clinicians and non-clinicians can host storytelling events around the country where individuals come together to share stories about their health care experiences and thoughts for improving care.
What Worries You Most? Clinicians can call a patient or two a day during the entire week to open a conversation that may have been difficult to have during regular office hours. Clinicians can also choose to pass out index cards to patients in the office or hospital settings, asking them the same question. When this exercise was undertaken last year for RCAW, clinicians discovered a large subset of replies were focused not on specific medical concerns, but on social issues like housing and violence.
Failing to listen to patients causes untold harm. Patients routinely undergo unnecessary procedures and tests, are prescribed the wrong medication, and fail to receive needed care, often because a nurse or doctor was not listening. Many clinicians know this, and they are desperate to spend more time with patients. They want to understand their patients’ priorities and to have the kind of relationships that are crucial to making sure patients get the right care.
“Reinserting listening into health care should be a national priority,” said Vikas Saini, MD, president of the Institute. “As health care in America becomes more industrialized and squeezes face-time with patients, patient safety is at risk. These planned activities underscore the power of listening, the most important aspect of any visit. When clinicians are afforded adequate time to listen to their patients’ needs and wants, they can provide the best care possible, the right care.”
Several national organizations have endorsed RCAW. They include the American Academy of Nursing, Patients for Change United, California Health Care Foundation, and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Open School.
Results from RCAW 2016 will continue to inform the Alliance’s ongoing work.
RCAW is made possible by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Learn more about Right Care Action Week and sign up for activities at www.RightCareActionWeek.org.
About the Lown Institute
The Lown Institute, a nonprofit, action-driven think tank, is dedicated to transforming the culture of medicine and building a health care system that is affordable, effective, personal and just. The Institute was founded by renowned cardiologist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Bernard Lown, MD, and supports his vision for compassionate health care. Visit www.LownInstitute.org and follow us on Twitter at @LownInstitute.
Margie Coloian, Director of Communications