Flip the Clinic: Bringing an Education Movement into Health Care Delivery

“Flipping the classroom” is a relatively recent innovation that requires students to watch videos of lectures or lessons individually before class, then using the following class time to practice problems and critical thinking in groups. Teachers, instead of giving initial lectures, facilitate group learning and are available to answer students’ questions. The flipped classroom transforms the traditionally passive learning style of a lecture class into much more active and collaborative learning.

An initiative led by a team from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation called “Flip the Clinic” strives to bring a similar transformation to health care office visits. As they state in an article summarizing their mission and approach, much of the standard medical visit is concerned with information exchange and measurements – health history, symptom descriptions, blood pressure, weight. What if those components could be completed by the patient before the visit, freeing up the valuable 15 minutes of face-to-face time with the clinician for problem solving, collaboration, and sharing goals and concerns for care?

Flip the Clinic

The Flip the Clinic team shares a couple of examples of innovations, or “flips,” to free up some of the visit time for these discussions, such as self-tracking data systems for patients with chronic illness or comprehensive post-visit notes from the clinician to avoid frantic note-taking during the appointment.

Flip the Clinic highlights the need for more collaboration between patients and clinicians. We need to teach patients to take advantage of this opportunity to engage in their care and we also need to teach clinicians to listen and encourage this active participation. We have seen that when patients learn to ask questions and share in decisions, they become better partners in their care. We offer a “flip,” the Right Question-Effective Patient Strategy (RQ-EPS), to accomplish just that.

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