Sep 9, 2010

The IHI Open School is Two!

Two years ago, the IHI Open School team was building a startup. We were pretty sure students would be interested in learning about quality, but there were lots of things we weren't sure about. Would busy students be ready to take on another commitment? Would faculty embrace the IHI Open School concept? Would students of nursing, pharmacy, medicine, business, and other professions find ways to collaborate to improve patient care?

After many late nights and weekends in the office, our team crossed our fingers and launched this initiative on September 15, 2008. Two years later,we are constantly humbled by the energy, accomplishments, and sheer numbers of students, residents, faculty, and health professionals who have plunged into the IHI Open School's offerings -- and taught us a lot about the work that preceded this initiative and made it possible for so much to happen in such a short time.

Exactly how far have we come together in just two years? Check out the numbers:
  • 38,000+ students and residents are registered on
  • 9,000 students and residents have completed a course
  • 8,000 faculty and deans are registered on
  • 700 students have earned an IHI Open School Certificate of Completion (all of the courses)
  • 250+ Chapters have been started in 35 countries

We offer a big, loud THANK YOU to the Chapter Leaders and Faculty Advisors who’ve taken on the challenge of leading a Chapter and getting others -- whether students, residents, or health professionals -- involved in quality improvement. Our thanks also to the health professionals who have made time to invite these students into their organizations.

Help us celebrate the last two years by telling us what the IHI Open School means to you. How have you used what you learned in the courses? Did leading or participating in a Chapter change your career? How is the IHI Open School shaping your personal and professional goals? And -- finally -- what do you want the IHI Open School community to do next?

Sep 8, 2010

Preparing for the Future

This summer, while I was traveling around Ghana conducting clinical quality and management research focusing specifically on the changes posting an OB/GYN specialist in district hospitals has on the hospital and the immediate community, my classmate Charlotte was busy administering a laparoscopic surgery training module to bring the technology of laparoscopy to Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana. Laparoscopic surgery, especially for gynecological surgeries, has been available to developed countries for at least 20 years, but this minimally invasive form of surgery has yet to become standard practice in Ghana. The benefits of laparoscopic surgery are many. It is cosmetically favored by patients and medically, reduces complications like hemorrhaging and has shorter recovery times. It is no exaggeration to say that Charlotte's work is ushering Ghana into a new surgical future that will bring a tremendous amount of public health benefit.

In 1910, Abraham Flexner's report titled, "Medical Education in the United States and Canada: A Report to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching" ushered and shaped medical education into it's current form. The Flexner Report called for standardization of medical education that was rooted in sound and rigorous biomedical and clinical science challenging the American and Canadian medical education systems to train the highest quality of physicians. Flexner, not a physician himself, wrote a book-length report that was framed with the greater society in mind. He wrote, "The public interest is then paramount, and when public interest, professional ideals, and sound educational procedure concur in the recommendation of the same policy, the time is surely ripe for decisive action."

It has been 100 years since the publication of the Flexner Report and with 100 years of experience of modern medical education, we are due for some reflection on the alignment of the medical education system and the public interest. In an article published in Academic Medicine, Drs. Don Berwick and Jon Finkelstein write and discuss a, let's call it "Flexner Report 2.0", shaping a medical education system that will better prepare physicians to meet the needs of a today's world of health care. Read the article here.

In the article Berwick and Finkelstein outline new values that should complement the current emphasis on biomedical science we receive in medical school. These values include "patient-centeredness, transparency, and stewardship of limited societal resources for health care." There is no time in the current curriculum to add on training in these new skills, many educators would argue. Berwick and Finkelstein also review the innovative programs, including the IHI Open School, that attempt to provide medical students and residents with a foundation in these new skills, as well as outlining a new frame of reference for medical curriculum change that will incorporate these invaluable skills. I certainly can't reproduce Berwick and Finkelstein's eloquence, so I will leave the explanation of the fine details to the article. Definitely a must-read!

In the 100 years since the publication of the Flexner Report, the medical education system has trained millions of physicians who have dramatically transformed health care. It was this cohort of physicians that popularized laparoscopic surgery! Looking just at performance outcomes, we have made incredible gains in both the length and quality of life for our patients. However, there is much more we can do. If we adopt Berwick and Finkelstein's recommendations, we will be poised to create a new physician workforce adept at navigating and continually improving the complexities of health care to consistently meet patient needs. We all need to collectively reflect on and brainstorm innovative interventions to fold the skills of systems thinking into our current medical education system. If we can develop the technology of laparoscopic surgery, I'm confident that we too can succeed in reinventing ourselves to better treat our patients with the tools of quality improvement. In 100 years, the world will surely look very different. I'm imagining a modern metropolis not unlike the life of the Jetsons. But, what will medicine look like? What kinds of public health accomplishments can we celebrate in the next 100 years? Let's work together to reshape medical education so that we will have plenty to celebrate in the future!

What do you think of the Berwick and Finkelstein paper? Leave a comment!