The 2011 Planetree Conference just wrapped in Nashville, Tennessee. It was the best motivational conference I’ve ever attended. Who knew?
I was one of 500 staff from the Veterans Health Administration. This great participation came about by the Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation Office (PCCCT). This new – and major – VHA office was created this year, with Dr. Tracy Gaudet as its Director. Tracy is an Ob/Gyn, a best-selling author and national speaker (hello! She was on Oprah and NPR). She created the Center for Integrative Medicine at Duke University. More in a minute.
Some highlights from the plenary speaker lineup:
Azure Antoinette, poet, artist and youth literary advocate opened the first night. I wasn’t able to capture her moving and lovely words, but here are a few, paraphrased –
There is something to be said about patient centered care
Something angelic about role models and champions…
This revolution of patient-centered must have happened three times over.
I must have missed it.
The healthcare revolution won’t be televised.
A huge treat was listening to Ben Zander, speaker, author of the Art of Possibility (with his wife Rosamund) and conductor of the Boston Philharmonic. He engaged us in wonderful ways, starting by discussing with the audience (only 1,400 people) why so many people sit in back rows. He asked people take empty seats in the front – and they did. For 90 minutes, he spoke about how people are molded by boundaries that humans set for themselves. He energized the crowd with laughter, stories, singing (we sang Happy Birthday repeatedly until it became a cause), and dreams about the “art of possibility”. He told us that in his job as a leader – or any leader – is
“to remind people what the rhythm of transformation is.”
He also stated, “if people don’t do what you want, you can apologize to them for not engaging them enough.” What a very different kind of viewpoint for patient engagement!
Tim Sanders talked about a new kind of leadership, where people give and get much more in return…by sharing knowledge, sharing networks, and having compassion. He spoke about leadership and improvement as love. Loved it.
Dr. Tracy Gaudet, recently named as a top woman in healthcare, was fitting as the last plenary speaker. Randy Carter, Planetree Senior VP, introduced her by noting that Tracy is one of the most quotable people he knows, always asking the most critical questions.
Tracy asked us, What is Patient-Centered Care? Is it better customer service? Is it open access to clinics and services? Is it treating people with respect? Treating people as human beings rather than a body part? Is it about patient preferences? Yes, it is all of these. Yet, if these are fully accomplished, Tracy presses, will we have achieved patient-centered care? No. We have to have a clear destination — where people drive their own health and care. And Tracy tells us to reach that destination, we have to answer (and provide): what do patients really, really, really want?
The speakers at #Planetree11 were remarkable not only because they are passionate and visionary, but because they told stories, created emotional connections and helped make patient-centered care palpable. They engaged us and made us believe in ourselves. Believe that we can be more, together – to achieve great things for patients and all of us.
This is how patients should be approached, to have them dream and believe and open up the art of possibility – for their health and their lives.
I really could use a dose of this EVERY SINGLE DAY.
(Oh, note to Planetree: bring in more patient advocates as speakers.)