November 25, 2015

 In The Messenger

Dear RightCare Supporter,

Happy Thanksgiving from the Lown Institute! Although we typically bring you RightCare Weekly on Thursdays, we are going to forego this week’s RCW issue in light of the holiday.

Instead, we are thrilled to present the first issue of The Messenger: News of the RightCare Movement. This publication will keep you up to date on the national movement for RightCare. The first issue announces an exciting development from the front lines in Boston, where clinicians and citizens are organizing to “tear down barriers to better care.” We’ll also share information about how you can get involved in the action, in your community or with one of the Councils of the RightCare Alliance.

Keep an eye out for upcoming issues – in December we’ll have a report on RightCare Action Week, followed by a big announcement in January!

If you’d like to see your RightCare news published in The Messenger, please email

A Call to Action

Healthcare professionals lay plans for a Listening Tour of Boston

By Kim DiGioia, MSPH, Lown Institute Fellow

The American people have had enough of our “sick care” system – and the time to fix it is now. That’s the conclusion from 40 doctors, nurses, patients, and patient advocates who gathered at the Boston Public Library last week to discuss ways to take back healthcare.

The meeting was organized and hosted by the Lown Institute and a steering committee, which has been meeting regularly for more than a year. Attendees of the Boston Public Library event vowed to work together, in concert with community representatives, to begin the process of transforming healthcare in the city.

Attendees heard from Lown Institute president, Vikas Saini, MD, who highlighted the mismatch between the commitment to caring that drove most clinicians into healthcare professions and the business-driven healthcare industry they work for.  “What’s been lost, in many ways, is the reason most of us went into our profession in the first place,” Dr. Saini said. Kate Cederbaum, RN, MSN, expressed a growing sense of frustration with a system that puts barriers between her and caring for her patients.

Jeannette Callahan, MD, urged the group to move beyond discussing what’s wrong to taking action.  “We have the diagnosis,” she said. “We have a system that works properly, we just have the wrong system. We need to move .  .  . to getting to what we really want for ourselves as clinicians, and for our patients.”

Dr. Saini noted that the sense of anguish over the current state of the US healthcare system is shared by healthcare professionals around the country. The older generation of clinicians is fed up after spending decades observing the harms that result from a disjointed and inadequate system. The younger generation feels called to action by a commitment to social justice and a desire to restore the sacred space between patients and clinicians. Many clinicians are ready for big changes.

Aaron Stupple, MD, had the opportunity to speak with the majority of attendees in advance of the meeting, and announced his main finding from these conversations, “Everybody in this room wants to do something about a dysfunctional healthcare system,” he said. Indeed, resounding agreement with speakers and a focus on actionable next steps demonstrate that this is a group of committed and energized citizens ready to make change.

The first activity of the group: a Listening Tour of Boston neighborhoods, to find out what improvements community members think are most urgently needed in the city’s healthcare system. Small breakout groups at the meeting offered many ideas for making sure the Listening Tour has maximum impact for improving healthcare in Boston, such as asking community members to take photos or video that demonstrates healthcare’s shortcomings. Check out some pictures from the meeting here.

Following up on the ideas expressed at the Boston Public Library, the steering committee met on Monday, November 23, to map out the first steps of the Listening Tour. They also discussed other ways to harness the collective energy of the group, by identifying shared goals and values between clinicians, patients, and communities. One way they plan to work on this is by organizing house parties of clinicians.

The next Boston meeting will be on January 20, 2016 at 6:30pm at the Old South Church. All are welcome to join in the discussion of next steps for The Listening Tour. Bring a friend. We hope to see you there!

If you’re wondering about the origin of the name we chose for this new publication, here’s a hint: it derives from the accidental and widespread use of this ancient messenger’s staff as a symbol of medicine (in place of the Rod of Asclepius).



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