Harvard Business Review: How to save a meeting that’s gotten tense.


I have a love-hate relationship with the Harvard Business Review. First, I think many of their articles are well-written, thoroughly researched, or illustrated well with specific business cases. I often learn a great deal about my own work through this mirror.

On the other hand, it is like drinking from a fire-hose. Subscribing to HBR gets overwhelming, and I start getting months and issues behind, unless I block out a couple of hours to read the mag cover to cover.

On the other hand, HBR has seen fit to create and publish online summaries of many of their articles for free. They also interview their authors for an online podcast. Both are effective and get their brand name out there. I also find these easier to consume.

This is one of those online articles. Meeting are a big part of my day. If you ask me, too big. But, over the years I’ve developed a number of meeting skills that have served me well, and this is a great summary of one of them.

FIRST LISTEN. Do not interject, do not object, do not state your position UNTIL YOU HAVE RESPECTFULLY LISTENED and also briefly summarized your understanding of the other participants in the meeting. This is also covered by Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. “SEEK TO UNDERSTAND before being understood.” Crucial Conversations, is a book that also covers this: “Control your own stories. Make it safe for all. Enlarge the pool of meaning, before stating your own path.”

Once everyone has felt “heard” then and only then can a productive discussion begin. Unfortunately many meetings skip this important step and become contentious and “tense.”

CMIO’s take? Meeting SKILZ! Learn them. Lots of books on the subject. Pick a good one (like those above), devour the content, and be humble enough to know that every one of us can be better. Meetings are how large organizations make progress. Being a meeting master disproportionately influences the value of an organization.

Date night with the EHR (from the VP of Joy)


This is both impressive work and incredibly depressing, and is a clarion call for those in physician informatics. Dr. Christine Sinsky’s piece in the NEJM catalyst is called “Date night with the EHR” and very clearly delineates physician time spent charting in electronic health records. Particularly appalling is the time spent on WEEKEND evenings (red circle) reliving the past week’s worth of left-over work. It is a clear dagger into the heart of physician wellness and key manifestation of physician burnout.

It is for this reason, that Practice Efficiency efforts with EHR optimization Sprints as well as Care Redesign by re-configuring clinical teams in clinics are gaining traction. It is for this reason that hospitals and clinics are taking a hard look at improving their Culture of Wellness. It is for this reason that organizations are investing in Physician Resilience programs.

And, the American Medical Association now has a Vice President, Professional Satisfaction, or as Dr. Sinsky calls herself: “The VP of Joy.” what an awesome title.

CMIO’s take? It is about time. Could this be the inflection point where silently suffering physicians begin to see hopefulness on the horizon? Physician Informaticists have long been at the bleeding edge of this work and the cultural traction is gratifying. March on, colleagues!

CT meditates: a comedy (5). Three domains of physician well-being


So, lets get this clear. I have heard both sides of the debate about “Physician Wellness Programs are Lipstick on a Pig“. Yes, of course. Many physicians are burned out because of inefficient practice, and often it is due to the setup and requirements of the Electronic Health Record. Therefore, according to this contingent, recommending ANY physician wellness program is like saying “suck it up; here’s some candy; hope you forget that your EHR sucks.”

In fact, in my organization, I have heard the sentiment: “CT Lin is personally ruining the quality of care at our organization” and also “SOMEONE (maybe CT) caused this dictation outage“. He just wants us to TYPE in the damn EHR.

On the other hand, I very much like the tripartite chart shown above: Physician Wellness can be described as three interrelated things: Personal Resilience (that CAN be improved with Wellness programs, and meditative practice, as I’m embarking on this month), Practice Efficiency (that I have and will continue describe our Sprint efforts and Care Redesign efforts), as well as a Culture of Wellness (where hospital and medical leadership – see my last post- emphasize how we will work together, and seek constant improvement).

Remember: those coming on the journey: 3 minutes of meditation! I’m holding both of us accountable to this important habit!

CMIO’s take? Don’t take it personally. It is both a meditative practice, and good career advice for a CMIO. I am a personification of this principle.