Last month I attended the 11th International Conference on Complexity in Acute Illness in Ottawa along with former Plexus President Curt Lindberg. The conference was primarily focused on developing applications of the theories of Plexus Advisor Ary Goldberger, who has described the complexity of normal heart and lung physiology, and how a loss in that complexity could indicate emerging illness. Numerous speakers, representing disciplines of critical care medicine, surgery, informatics, mathematical modeling, and physics, described how these concepts could potentially lead to earlier recognition of potentially reversible illness. Patient populations described included critically ill infants, burn patients, major trauma patients, and adult patients on ventilators, just to name a few.
At the same conference we heard a presentation from Curt Lindberg about Billings Clinic and how focusing on changing and improving relationships is leading to healthcare delivery innovations. John Scott, MD, described his research on what patients and physicians have mutually agreed are "healing relationships” that involve factors such as mindfulness, valuing, appreciating power, and abiding. And Heather Mattila, PhD, from Wellesley, presented some of her research regarding the role of diversity in ensuring the health of honeybee colonies.
This caused me to think about the convergence of factors associated with restoring seriously ill patients to health. These patients are connected to numerous monitors that give important information to the group of clinicians providing care. Soon we may have additional monitoring capabilities to identify loss of complexity, which could enable caregivers to respond earlier and provide more effective rescue care. But then what? Once team members have the information, they need to go into action to provide the care the patient needs. And how do we know whether, at that moment, the team is "healthy” enough to provide that care? What is the status of the relational coordination (the subject of a recent Plexus call) of the team providing care? What is staffing like? Fatigue? How quickly are clinicians responding to their patients’ changes in condition? What if we had the ability to stream this kind of information together and have that displayed on monitors, reflecting the unit’s "health?” Maybe the unit’s vital signs are as important in determining the outcomes of care as the vital signs of the patients for whom they’re providing care. Please share any thoughts or ideas you have below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.