Simulations for Empathic Care Workshop

In collaboration with Columbia University's Digital Storytelling Lab, we hosted a workshop to explore how simulations could be used to help patients and caregivers develop skills and prepare to navigate care for themselves or those they care about.

Simulations are a common tool in clinician training giving medical students a safe space to practice the art of diagnosis and communication with patients. We think simulation could have benefit for patients and caregivers by giving them spaces to experiment with how to share and hear challenging information. 

Some feedback from people who participated:

“What amazed me was how differently we all think. In a group of five of us working together our different minds turned things inside out and upside down, each of us looking through our own unique perspective. When you open yourself to using and building on that, solutions you would not have seen somehow magically appear.”  

"The event was excellent.  It infused creativity and down-to-Earth creativity into a challenging and highly sensitive field.  Some of the ideas conceived (i.e. situations game, apps, plays) were very cool and gave a good idea to simplify and ease into healthcare situations."

"I was inspired by the groups of people who were actively seeking alternative viewpoints, hoping to make the healthcare experience something that focused on patient well-being and whole-person care instead of checking boxes on a form.  As a patient advocate, I feel the clinical encounter can be changed - for the better - by empowering patients to raise their voices."

A look at some of the simulations that were created at the workshop:

The "breaking your leg while skiing" simulation allows patients and caregivers to explore issues related to accidents, navigating care away from home, dealing with family and friends, and managing insurance and out-of-network care experiences.

The "navigating uncertainty" game allows people to consider their resources and then respond to health events that added to and subtracted from those resources (Like the game Life but with more of a health and resilience focus)

The "shake it like you care" simulation is an app and community game that takes people through exercises to 1) build skills around awareness of who needs care 2) practice asking for care 3) practice offering care.

Caregiving Day 1 to Day 30 considers intense caregiving episodes like those at end-of-life or after significant episodes. The activity gives people exposure to the types of discussions and decisions that will likely occur and how the experience will change over time. It introduces the idea of inner voice and outer voice (What you’re thinking and what you actually say) as a tool for the complex feelings that can accompany these moments

The "what to expect at the fertility doctor" simulation gives people (women and partners) exposure to the practical and emotional experiences that will make up their engagement with a fertility clinic with a particular emphasis on how it might change over time.

Storytelling is a huge part of the life experience and should be a bigger part of the healthcare experience. Let us know if you think you or people you know would benefit from these kinds of simulations - or if there are others you can think of that would help you develop and hone the skills you need to advocate for yourself. Thanks to everyone who participated and to our partners in creating and delivering this event

Things our team can't stop thinking about...

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Matt Maleska, co-director, can't stop thinking about ProPublica's investigative report on the large number of unexpired prescription drugs thrown away each year. "The story is such a powerful example of a systemic problem in clear opposition to our values, but held in place by habit and regulation. And then you have Iowa who did something about it. A reminder that change can happen when the forces start moving in the same direction."

Victor Montori MD, chair, is thinking about The Enigma of Reason. "I can't get out of my head the notion that the most intellectual and intimidate of our cognitive functions, reasoning, may have evolved for use in groups. This would mean that certain forms of cooperation to make sound decisions such as deliberative democracy in politics or shared decision making in medicine may be using our brains optimally, and that situations or procedures that force people into reasoning alone (traditional medical model, university education, suffering) may disadvantage the loner. "

Maggie Breslin, co-director, has a game called Hello on her mind. "Hello, created by the Common Practice team, is a conversation game about living, dying, and what matters most.  I had the chance to play with some medical students a few years ago, and I remember being asked, 'What would be on your tombstone?'  I responded, 'She chose her battles.' I wonder what these participants will take from their experience." See a video of the event for a glimpse into the simple intimacies Hello fosters, and how powerful and beautiful those moments can be. 

How do we make evidence care?

The Patient Revolution chair, Victor Montori, gave a talk at EvidenceLive about how relying on data and guidelines alone to direct treatment decisions ignores a critical and significant part of the care equation.

Patients - Watch to understand how telling your clinician about what is going on in your life can transform the care you receive.

Clinicians - Watch to be reminded of how understanding a patient's context can allow you to apply guidelines and treatment options in a way that fits into a patient's life.