Mayo Transform Conference: Calling Out the End of Life Elephant in the Room

Since 2009, The Center for Innovation at Mayo Clinic has hosted a unique blending of design and medical professionals to hold a 3 day dialogue, at a deeper level, on innovations that shape new ways of providing medical care with over 8 countries and 21 states represented. There are over 125 businesses in attendance. As an iSpot awardee for our transformative approach to Palliative Care known as The Personal Caring Initiative, I sat down with members of the Center of Innovation(CFI) at Mayo Clinic to talk about Transform 2012: The Conversation will Continue, September 9-11, Rochester, Minnesota.


Cory: First of all, thank you for the iSpot award, I am very grateful and humbled with this award. I am new to transform and I understand it is really cool. Perhaps you can share why “Transform” and why is it cool?


CFI: As a very small team over the last few years, the vision is for transforming the experience of healthcare and to disrupt the status quo. Transform brings in people from many disciplines from outside medicine to collaborate about new care deliver models. Transform is an environment for ideas and inspiration. At the core, Transform is reaching beyond medicine to understand health. It is described as a passionate, energetic, excited, and nontypical medical conference. It is in the space between medicine and design.

I remember my mentor commenting that we can’t change health care by changing health care but rather, we have to mature our culture and transform our communities. I understand that this year Transform is calling out one elephant in the room that has been considered politically radioactive and a major source of misguided rhetoric in the media, namely, end-of-life care.

Two elephants are being brought out; End of Life Care and Teenage Suicide. We hope the elephants that come storming out will allow us to look differently at other elephants in our institutions and culture. Michael Wolf, journalist, is a panelist on the Elephant in the Room speaking on his experience with his mother’s medical care as illustrated in his New York Magazine article, A Life Worth Ending. Dr. Satow, is speaking on Teenage Suicide and his creation of the Jed Foundation in honor of his son.

Why end of life care? In fact, Mr. Wolf’s article was very controversial. It seems a bit risky?

It is a risk. It is a testament to CFI to be a disrupter of the status quo. We pick things you wouldn’t expect. This will resonate with the personal connection of people within Transform. They have been through this. You want this to blend into the everyday fold of their life. Leslie Koch will speak on the Governors Island story as an example of the something unexpected and an extraordinarily novel and relevant approach to transformation.

Leslie Koch, President of The Trust for Governors Island, is using a very experimental planning model to re-design something very big. She is overseeing the planning, redevelopment and ongoing operation of the Governors Island transformation in New York Harbor. Under her leadership, the island has been a place for experimentation with the end goal of becoming a vibrant public space for New York. She is approaching this project very openly, transparently and using a very experimental model, essentially co-creating the redesign of this property with visitors and citizens of NYC; people that will use the park. Imagine if we approached transforming health care in such a way, or at a micro–level, transforming the Palliative Care model. Going to the users — the patients and family of receiving Palliative Care — to discover new and transformative approaches we can use to care for people and their families living with serious illness and possibly approaching the end of life. Approaches that we may never even have considered on our own. Ultimately creating a care model that provides greater value and better outcomes to the patient and family — much more than an office visit that we sandwich in between visits that can range from ingrown toenails and annual check-ups. The needs of the patient come first, and a holistic model is the healthiest for touching all palliative patients.

I am getting the sense that Transform is more than the 3 day dialogue?

What happens at Transform comes back to the CFI to help us understand things differently. Dr. LaRusso has been pioneering this to bring forth the best solutions. Transform is a continuous conversation and connections with attendees throughout the years. The narrative of attendees is that this is a non-traditional conference.

I think the excitement around new ideas and collaborations is a driving force around people wanting to come. They are not satisfied with the status quo and want to impact the lives of people. We are proud of weaving design into health care.

I am very proud to be allowed to participate in Transform 2012 as an iSpot recipient for our work on The Personal Caring Initiative. I envision The Personal Caring Initiative as a model of care that offers hope for our culture and our society as a paradigm shift towards comprehensive tender loving human to human care to our most frail among us affirming life, all of life, including the part called the end of life. It is my hope that there will be a connection created between the AAHPM and Transform to thoughtfully continue to mature and transform our culture, communities and delivery of the best care possible for seriously ill people and their families.

Cory Ingram, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Palliative Medicine
Mayo Clinic, College of Medicine

Medical Director – Palliative Medicine
Chair of the Palliative Medicine Specialty Council
Mayo Clinic Health System

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