Recap: Takeaways for Me Fine’s work from 2018 Institute for Healthcare Improvement conference

Written by Joey Powell, executive director of the Me Fine Foundation

I really enjoy being around sharp people (read: “People smarter than me”), especially people who are at the forefront of their fields. There’s something really invigorating when over 5,000 humans’ worth of brainpower is in the same place. Thus, you can imagine the rush that carried me when I had the privilege to attend the 2018 Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) National Forum last December.

Because of my involvement with the UNC School of Medicine’s IHQI Department and the UNC Children’s Hospital Patient and Family Advisory Board, I was afforded the opportunity to join some of the UNC team members t for the conference. The vast array of breakout sessions allowed me to create my own learning track for the week. I opted to map my track around the core concepts of Diversity/Equity and Leadership Through Change. (Both of these tenets have been really prevalent themes through Me Fine’s work as well, so two birds…one stone, and whatnot.)

Three adults standing in front of a banner reading Institute for Healthcare Improvement
Joey Powell (center), with Patience Leino (left) and Susan Marks (right)

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the conference was the power of the Plenary/Keynote sessions. I realize that most of these events try to set the Keynotes as their pinnacle, but IHI really nailed this. In order, the lineup consisted of:

Rather than try to rundown all of the amazing concepts and knowledge that I soaked in over the three days, I’ll share with you some of my major takeaways, hopefully in digestible form.

Social determinants influence about 80-90% of health outcomes in the real world. “Your zip code can affect your well-being more than your genetic code.” – Zubin Damania. Please do yourself a favor and check out some of his music videos. They’re only outdone in quality by how compelling they are. Check HERE.

ZDoggMD actually founded Turntable Health in Las Vegas, a health clinic focused on social determinants. The clinic had a flat fee with no copays for patients. It was widely successful until one of its major funders put more emphasis on dollars rather than human outcomes.

We (in healthcare) need to change the opening question to patients from, “What’s the matter,” to “What matters to you?” – Leitch

Current best practices in healthcare are created by a few (people), and aren’t diverse nor inclusive. Knowledge should not be power…SHARING (that knowledge) is power. – Feeley

Derek Feeley showed a photo of a patient in a hospital gown, using the gown as an example of a healthcare “best practice.. He showed the view of a patient in the gown with the patient’s derriere exposed and questioned from whose perspective it was deemed “best practice.”

Leitch shared a quote from President Barack Obama about how power can be shaped by inclusion. The premise was how implementing change can be much easier when there’s inclusive buy-in from the group of those affected by it. Independent of politics, it’s pretty prescient: “If you have a community that stands behind you, you’ll have more power. If you don’t, you won’t.”

“Don’t let external pressures shape delivery for a short term result: Stick to a constancy of purpose and coherence over time.” – Pedro Delgado

On the Women in Action panel, Mona Hanna-Attisha was absolutely amazing. You may know her as the pediatrician whose research led to the discovery of the Flint water crisis. Her approach to patient visits is holistic but so simple: she screens for ear infections, sure. But she also screens for safety, poverty, food insecurity, etc. Her story shows how hospital professionals can take a stand in a community to protect the patients they serve and live alongside.

Finally, Father Boyle was captivating. Upon seeing his name and knowing nothing about him, I was skeptical of hearing a priest open the final day: I anticipated a soft monotone delivery. Plus, what could a religious figure have to contribute about outcomes in health care? However, three minutes in, you can tell that he’s not only a major change agent in the Los Angeles gang culture, but an incredibly accomplished speaker. Check out his book “Tattoos on the Heart”, which I’m currently reading. There was also a documentary about Homeboy Industries and his work that you can watch on Amazon Prime called, “G-Dog.” I may or may not have gotten some water in my eyes, if I’m being honest.

I took away quite a few powerful perspectives and some personal challenges that I want to work with in the coming year. I’m definitely excited and hoping to attend next year.

Do you want to ask questions or hear more about the forum? Shoot me an email: Thanks for your support of Me Fine and our work!