This is the best Covid-19 graph I’ve ever seen

Perhaps the image of the year. Control group vs Vaccine group in the Pfizer trial: see the red line COMPLETELY FLATTEN at 10 days.

The Pfizer vaccine flat-out works. Read the New England Journal of Medicine article yourself; open access:

https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa2034577

But, what’s the TL;DR?

  1. The control group (blue line measuring cumulative, or total number of infections of Covid-19 in the control group) grows at a constant rate, as expected.
  2. The vaccine group (red line) rises in parallel for the first 9 days, and then by day 10, BAM the red line is almost completely flat, indicating almost NO infections in the vaccine group. This makes sense, as it takes the body awhile to detect the vaccine antigen (spike protein), then manufacture antibodies in great volume

SO COOL. As Michelle Barron MD, our infection prevention specialist states: “I would have been happy with a vaccine that is 50% effective, like the flu shot some years. This one is 95% effective.”

Wow. Hang in there everybody.

Podcast alert: Alphafold and the Future of Physicians

First, go listen to the story. It is only 10 minutes and worth it.

Then

Here

Are

My

Observations.

There. Just wanted to give you some space to listen and then come back. Here’s my take. I did this originally on twitter, but it turns out, I need lessons on creating an easily connectable twitter thread (yikes, another thing to learn and master).

This Podcast is excellent.

@Doctor_V is spot on. Agree: industrialization of docs means there is no time for most docs to tinker with test tubes in the back office of their busy clinic. Even academic medical centers find the legendary ‘triple threat’ docs (clinician, teacher, researcher) increasingly rare. 1/

And then, information transparency means medical literature is widely and instantly disseminated: the myth of the all-knowing doc is eroding. Some patients with rarer diseases can study enough to be nearly as expert and up to date, albeit without the broad clinical experience of years of medical practice. 2/

Furthermore, the explosion of new information and knowledge is too fast for ANY human to keep up with. This is due in part to the technology acceleration, due to growth in globalization and ability to communicate and connect many minds with many ideas. Only purpose-built AI’s have a chance to digest such a deluge. 3/

The bad news: human minds will not keep up, from here on out. The good news: we can become centaurs: half human, half horse (or AI-assisted). Chess, for example, in unlimited tournaments, is most often won by human-computer hybrid teams. I think this is our foreseeable model in healthcare, and in a growing number of fields. 4/

And in the long run, perhaps we are all out of a job? I don’t agree with that either. TV did not knock out radio. Cable did not knock out broadcast TV. Internet did not knock out cable. The landscape just looks different. 5/

Finally, I agree with Dr. Vartebedian’s point: we need to look up more from our grindstones and see what is on the horizon. If the technology acceleration continues, it will come at us faster. And we need to prepare ourselves and educate our patients, our communities. Thanks for reminding us. Amazing things ahead. 6/end.

Covid Vaccine education: THIS is how you do it (Denver Health Grand Rounds)

Want to know how to teach science that makes sense to scientists as well as the general public? And, it is about Covid vaccine effectiveness and safety. Watch and learn. So proud of our Denver Health Colleagues.

I am unhappy that many physicians and scientists are so bad at educating colleagues and the general public on important topics. We get too much into the weeds, we lose sight of the forest when describing the trees too-up-close.

Dr. Anuj Mehta, a physician at Denver Health held a grand rounds that blows these low expectations out of the water. In 40 minutes, he tells us:

  • How vaccines work in general
  • Why and how the new Covid mRNA vaccines work
  • The actual safety data from the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca trials
  • How vaccine approval works in the US, and what the FDA and CDC are saying
  • He then summarizes “COVID-19 Vaccine: Reasons Why NOT To Be Scared”

Finally, in our recent surveys of physicians and staff at my organization, over 97% of physicians state they plan to get the vaccine, while only about 65% of medical assistants state this. This speaks to both physician confidence in the science, and also to the concerning gap that we are not teaching our non-physician colleagues adequately about the science and how important this is.

CMIO’s take? 1. This is a tour-de-force, folks. Watch it. Learn. There are brighter days ahead. 2. Please spread the word. Vaccinations will save lives. AND, continue to wear masks and social distance. It all works together.

When Can I See Results in My Patient Portal?

We are all scrambling to put together simple documents to explain to patients and providers about INFO BLOCKING / SHARING coming in a week. Here’s our latest document. Link to full PDF here. Feel free to adapt this for your organization. We are also hoping our very smart Epic colleagues in Wisconsin can add a patient-preference setting into MyChart to accommodate the variety of patients out there, regarding seeing their own test results.

Remember, the rest of our INFO SHARING education documents are on my last blog post HERE.

CMIO’s take? Are you developing education tools that are simple 1-page explanations of complex topics? Let me know.

You’re gonna release WHAT? WHEN? Info Blocking vs Info Sharing

Info Blocking means inpatient and outpatient progress notes released immediately to patients, along with lab results, CT/ MRI/ PET scan results, pathology results. Immediately. Ready?

My 1-page White Paper on WHY and 4 following pages on HOW/WHAT

LINK TO UCHealth’s INFO BLOCKING WHITE PAPER

What is Changing

The 21st Century Cures Act has an Information Blocking regulation that addresses the concern that some health systems or facilities delay or block patient information from other treating health systems, or from the patient. Of immediate concern to this CMIO is the impact this rule has on our health system, to wit:

We are already an Open Notes organization, since 2016, releasing outpatient provider progress notes to patients immediately upon signature. This applies to emergency department and urgent care notes, also to hospital discharge summaries. We’re happy with this, and proud to lead the charge in Colorado for information transparency. Same with immediate release of the vast majority of lab test results.

HOWEVER, we still delay some results 4 days, 7 days or 14 days depending on category (see above). The new INFO BLOCKING regulation stipulates that systematic delays like this will Violate the Info Blocking rule, and that the potential penalty for such delay is $1 million.

Wow.

This is great news for patients and patient advocates; they have long stated the maxim: “Nothing about me without me.” I love this idealism. Practically? We have struggled with how to make this happen. Now the feds have conveniently stepped in with a mandate. This makes the conversation easier.

Our big struggles ahead

  • Teach our inpatient providers to write notes that are ready for patients to read each day they’re in the hospital.
  • Teach ALL our providers how to anticipate patient concerns and the range of possible results coming from pathology (biopsies and PAP smears and other results that may show cancer or severe disease). Same with complex imaging like CT scans, MRI’s, PET scans, mammograms. Same with lab results that may show genetic variants, like Down’s syndrome.

How I made this

Beyond the specifics of the INFO BLOCKING rule, this also illustrates the value of Form Factor and Communication Strategy. My mentor always taught me: if you write a white paper executive summary, every additional page beyond one side of one page cuts your readership in half.

So, for my white paper, I have written a ONE PAGE summary of WHY this is important and what action is needed. For those who just need “at a glance” the color grid in the center tells the story of exactly what is changing. And because data alone does not change minds, the call-out box at the bottom includes a few quotes from selected leaders, telling a brief story.

Finally, if you get to the end of the page and are interested in doing something, I have 4 more pages of HOW and WHAT to take you to the next level.

This, COMBINED WITH a road show, where I am going to every major physician leadership meeting, is how I’m getting the word out. There is, of course, much more work to do at the individual provider and manager and service and clinic level, but I’m trying to give everyone a running start. There’s not much time left.

CMIO’s take? We all have hard work ahead. This is a federal mandate, so 4000 hospitals, countless health systems and clinics will be facing this as well. The link to my white paper here (and above) is my contribution. I hope this helps you get to the right place with this regulation AND with doing the right thing for our patients.

Access to Telemedicine and disparities (WIRED)

from WIRED magazine article

https://www.wired.com/story/access-telemedicine-is-hardest-those-who-need-it-most/

As we work on telehealth options for patients, it is important to keep in mind the population of patients we serve. This article demonstrates the differences in access our most vulnerable patients have in accessing technology.

We cannot rest. We have miles to go, before we sleep.

Explaining Science using a Horse Metaphor

This is a poster I saw last fall at an AI conference sponsored by University of Colorado School of Medicine. The science is interesting and very well conducted.

HOWEVER! Pay close attention to the middle column. The authors have, in my opinion, created a clear metaphor to explain a very complex concept. Do YOU know how to do this? As scientists, we are increasingly subspecialized. How do we translate our important findings so that others can understand? This is getting harder and harder to do, as even OTHER SCIENTISTS (I count myself among them) have a hard time understanding what SCIENTISTS IN OTHER FIELDS are doing.

CMIO’s take? Take a moment to digest this, and decide for yourself: can you tell a story and explain as well as these scientists did? Why not?

Pandemic skills: Giving feedback successfully: I Like … I wish … What if … ?

Theater and acting: a life skill [icon from thenounproject.com]

During this pandemic, many of us have been stuck in front of our screens, like talking heads (Max Headroom, anyone?). If “sitting is the new smoking” (or perhaps not), then I’ve been “smoking” a lot.

Virtual meetings are draining, and I’m on them up to 8 hours a day, even busier now with all the EHR modifications, keeping up with policy changes, what Covid-testing is available, how we admit, treat, discharge, follow, track patients.

At the ends of long hours, long days, long weeks, our nerves are frayed.

I’ve observed that interactions between people have everything to do with the interpersonal skills of the individuals. Sometimes the conversation does NOT go well. Whether it is by email (worst for crucial conversations), by phone (slightly less bad), by online video meeting (slightly less bad) or in person (best, when possible), it is certainly worsened by the pandemic situation.

I’ve been taking a Story Skills Workshop (by Seth Godin and Bernadette Jiwa) that recently concluded. I have to say that I’ve learned quite a lot, and not what I was expecting to learn. I highly, highly recommend it. Seth and Bernadette offer a series of online lessons, released over time. There are about 6 expert coaches, and the instruction is to sign up for an interest group or ‘accountability group’. You’re given a story structure (the 5 C’s: Context, Catalyst, Complication, Change, Consequence) and then specific lessons to write and polish specific elements of your own story in this framework. The cool part is the instruction to ‘first write your own story, and then go comment on at least 5 others.’

  • I learned that it is possible, in an online-only course, to develop a sense of community and collegiality in a short 30 days.
  • I learned that it is crucial to be gentle in first contact with others online. For example, when giving feedback on others’ stories, DO NOT start right in with ‘why don’t you add more Emotion to that moment in your story?’ You’ll learn (as did I) that conversation either stops or becomes defensive. Remember that online conversations carry ZERO nonverbal: no Kind tone of voice, no Friendly posture. All you see are the words, and it is automatic to imagine them coming from a frowning critic with crossed arms, shaking his brutish head. [Pause for self-reflection amongst my blog-readers, as well as from myself…]
  • Instead, try something my theater-trained son taught me:

‘I like… I wish… What if …’

My highly emotionally intelligent son
  • Framing any response this way allows your recipient to hear something positive, then a neutrally posed concern, followed by a tentative suggestion. Having been on both sides of such a well-formed critique, I can say: it is EASY to write, doesn’t take longer, and on the receiving end FEELS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. It FEELS like a close friend, reaching a hand over to pull you up to a higher step.
  • FOR EXAMPLE: Take one of my story-critiques of a co-participant in the story workshop, not done well on my part: “Why don’t you add more emotion to your story? It reads like a timeline, but nothing about what you felt, or how that impacted you.” I thought I was clever, to point out one of the main points of that week’s lesson. What I received was… no response. Hmm.
  • Rephrasing the reply using this framework, when I replied to a different participant’s story, sounded like this: “Hi, Joe! I liked your story, especially the unexpected part about running away from home at 16. I wish I could be there at that moment when you made the decision, everything boiling-over, and then a crucial moment. What if you paused in your story and told us what you were thinking and feeling right then? I would be riveted.” Guess what? We had a great online conversation after that, and he re-wrote his story, and I WAS RIVETED. Win-win.

CMIO’s take? Story telling: cool. Gentle, effective feedback: cooler. Don’t we all need to get better at this?

Improving Communication with Video Visits: now with shorter video!

17 minute walkthrough
1 hour seminar version with intro and Q/A

Thanks to my excellent colleagues at UCHealth, Echo Vogel, Hillary Duffy and Duane Pearson, co-conspirators to spend an hour on a Zoom webinar to review Patient Experiences with online Video Visits. We are all on a rapid learning curve. Come spend some time with us as we review what we’ve learned.

Here is a link to my original post on Video Visits, and on Patient Experience with Video Visits.

And here is my one page PDF on best practices (including communication strategies) with Video Visits.

CMIO’s take: What are YOU learning with Video Visits?

EHR v Covid-19. Nurses help families of ICU patients, from home

ICU rounds at PVH, photo credit: Lydia Baldwin

These are our healthcare heroes at work: From ICU rounds at Poudre Valley Hospital, part of UCHealth: Starting from the left standing we have Respiratory Therapy, Palliative Care PA, and Chaplain. Sitting from the left are RN, intensivist MD and Charge RN. In front of the intensivist (in green scrubs) is a telephone on the desk. The telephone is on ‘speaker’ and dialed in to a conference line. Also dialed in are: Pharmacist working remotely, Nurse Communication Liaison working remotely, Social Work.

So many great things going on here: Social distancing as much as practical (too much further and you can’t hear each other over the din of electronic alerts across the ICU), N95 masks (all day every day), reviewing data together from so many disciplines, discussing each patient in detail and taking immediate actions (placing orders, creating consensus on medical decisions, dividing tasks for rapid action).

In times of pandemic, the hospital follows infection prevention protocol and isolates very sick, very infectious patients. In this case, we have grouped and isolated all Covid-19 patients into a distinct unit, away from non-Covid patients. AND, in most cases, patients are not allowed to have visitors.

This is both good medical practice, and heartbreaking to families who cannot be present at a patient’s most desperate hour.

Out of this swirl of confusion, Julie Griffin, Nurse Manager of Care Management, thought: we have highly qualified nurses on-leave at home (orthopedic unit nurses with no post-op surgical patients; pregnant nurses for whom Covid infection would be particularly dangerous); how might they help share the burden of patient care with bedside nurses, and still minimize risk of contagion and exposure?

And so was born: Nurse Communication Liaison. Nurses from home, helping keep families connected, and reducing the burden on bedside nurses. We haven nurses helping with med/surg units as well as ICU’s. As described by ICU nurse Molly:

7AM: My day starts at 7: I review the Epic EHR chart from home for patients in the ICU. I read the notes from the nurses and the doctors overnight in our 12 bed unit. By the way, our unit has moved to double occupancy, and we’ve expanded to be a 23 bed unit. So much has changed, we’re so much busier.

8-10AM: I start receiving calls from family members and I give them updates on their loved ones, that I can, based on what I know. I am using Epic secure chat (a HIPAA-compliant text message service) to communicate with the ICU bedside nurses, social worker, respiratory therapy to get and give updates. I LOVE secure chat because it means the bedside nurse: who is gowned, gloved, doesn’t have to scrub out to answer another nuisance phone call interruption; they can catch up with chat-messages when there’s a break in the action.

10-11AM: Daily ICU rounds (picture above), where the team discusses every patient and I’m on the conference phone. It is a complete team with everyone pitching in.

11AM-430PM: We have designated ONE main contact family member for each ICU patient. We have found it can be overwhelming to have many family members calling each day for updates. I am so happy to be able to serve as the main contact for these family members and unburden our extremely busy bedside nurses to focus on their patients.

Some great unexpected moments:

Jamie: “Bedside nurses often spend 15 minutes on the phone with family. Multiply that by 5 patients and it becomes a big part of your day. We all wish we had more time to talk to families, but we’re often too busy caring for patients. I love helping connect with families and reassuring them.”

Jamie: “One gentleman was was not doing well. He was very quiet on the phone, and would never ask for anything. I spoke with his close friend at home, who noted that he was Jewish, and might appreciate a visit from a Rabbi or the Chaplain. I was able to arrange that.”

Jamie: “Being an ortho nurse on a medical unit, I was anxious at first. But communicating with the bedside nurses by secure chat and occasionally the phone, I found that even if I couldn’t answer families’ questions, I could always find out. Families are always so appreciative of the extra communication. I love this role. It is really awesome.”

Dawn: “The difference with this role is: There’s only the person on the phone. It is quiet at my home on my end. Normally when I’m at the bedside, I’m always trying to ‘wrap up the conversation’ with family: there are so many other things needing my attention. I can really feel good about being focused, connecting with family, and freeing up the bedside nurse to do their jobs.”

Dawn: “I was on the phone with the husband of a Covid patient. I noticed he would occasionally grunt, while we were talking about his wife. I had to ask him: ‘Are you okay?’ He told me he had had a fall, and had to pull on his pant-legs to go up the stairs. I recognized the signs of a major injury. It took some convincing, but I finally got him to call his doctor. Turns out the next day he was admitted and had emergency surgery himself.” As an ortho nurse, she was probably the perfect person to help.

Davida: “Sometimes you can remind the bedside nurse by secure chat: ‘his daughter would like to see his face today. Can you get the tablet in there for a Zoom visit?'”

Davida: “I feel really useful, being able to connect with PT, social work, bedside nurse all by non-interruptive but efficient Secure Chat, and then calling to make sure the family stays informed.”

Molly: “It is completely weird not to be an ICU bedside nurse right now. I think I will be better at charting in the future. Not being able to see the patient lets me understand what families want to know, that I rarely wrote down before: how do they look? are they following commands? can they squeeze? How scary this is for the family, and although it is a tricky role for us, it feels great to be helping.”

CMIO’s take? Thank you to our amazing UCHealth nurses: Lisa Claypool, Julie Griffin, Jamie Deschler, Davida Landgraf, Molly Carrell, Dawn Velandra for their experiences and stories.