Pam Ressler's Blog Featured in Grand Rounds

In the medical world "grand rounds" refers to a time-honored ritual in which experienced physicians, interns/residents and medical students come together to present and discuss a patient, condition, or treatment before an audience.  In the blogosphere we have our own multidisciplinary Grand Rounds in which interesting and informative health care blogs are selected to be highlighted and reviewed each week. I am thrilled that my blog was one of the health care blogs selected to be featured in this week's Grand Rounds.  I am humbled to be in such great company! 

Grand Rounds March 1, 2011

Technology and Resilence

When friends and colleagues hear that I teach mindfulness and resiliency skills AND that I am actively engaged in social media in health care, they often scratch their heads in confusion. Mindfulness and building resiliency are thought to be at odds with our increasingly 24/7 digital society. Let me say, I agree. But resiliency is the ability to bounce back from adversity, and often requires creative solutions to do so. While I see challenges of over saturation with information and a frantic pace of living associated with 24/7 technology, I also see wonderful opportunities for increased connection, communication, as well as decreased isolation especially by vulnerable members of our society. One of the manifestations of increased technology is its ability to narrow the divide between those with chronic illness and those without. Helping to normalize interactions and social connection in ways that were once unimaginable are now possible for the cost of an iPad...and that is resilience!

Click here to read the NY Times article that inspired me to write this post. I would love to hear your thoughts and welcome your comments.

The Arts of Compassion: Perspectives on Arts and Health

A reminder about an interesting upcoming symposium in the Boston area, on Saturday, October 2, which promises to be a very special gathering of experts, leaders and visionaries in the field of arts and health care. The event is open to the general public and will be followed by a concert by the Longwood Symphony -- an orchestra composed of health care practitioners. Here is a press release about The Arts of Compassion: Perspectives on Arts and Health:

"A year ago, a remarkable group of engaged, curious and committed individuals who share an interest in the role of the arts in health care began to meet to share ideas and inspiration. Each month, the group, including Longwood Symphony Orchestra, gathered to hear a presentation about the remarkable work being done by one of its member organizations.

BACH: Boston Arts Consortium for Health now invites you to join us, to learn more about the remarkable breadth and depth of the field of arts and health care here in the greater Boston community.

Join us as we learn about Whittier Street Health Center's Expressive Arts Therapy program; Artists for Alzheimer's work with people living with Alzheimer's, Longwood Symphony's LSO on Call program, The Healing Empowerment Center, and much more.

During the midday break, participants are invited to learn about integrative medicine from practitioners at the Mobile Clinic from the Integrative Medicine Alliance.

The Arts of Compassion will be held from 9:00am-5:00pm at the David Friend Recital Hall at Berklee College of Music, 921 Boylston Street, Boston. The conference is open to the public, and the registration fee of $35 includes materials and lunch. Online registration for the symposium is available through the Longwood Symphony Orchestra's website

Participants are invited to attend the Longwood Symphony Orchestra's opening season concert at a discounted rate of only $25. The concert is will be held at NEC's Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street at 8:00 pm. Go to and enter discount code SYMP"

Nurses Lead the Way With Health 2.0 Chronic Disease Initiative for Teens

If you have observed teens in the last 10 years, you will know that most teens prefer texting to talking on cell phones. It is this observation that led Visiting Nurse Service of New York to propose an innovative chronic disease management tool for teens with Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes) using aspects of health 2.0 and social media. The pilot program, which will run for two years, supplies each teen with a BlackBerry smartphone with specific interactive diabetes tracking software installed. The teens will be tracking and monitoring their blood sugar and diet information into the BlackBerry and the data will be monitored and analyzed by visiting nurses with the hypothesis that more frequent monitoring by teens with diabetes will lead to better health outcomes and fewer complications of diabetes.

Kudos to the Visiting Nurse Service of New York for embracing a creative use of new technology to provide better disease management to a very wired target market! How do you envision tools of technology and connection being used in healthcare?

Check out a video about the pilot program by clicking here.

Vicki Kennedy's Reflections on Compassionate Care

I had the pleasure of hearing Vicki Kennedy, the wife of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, give a very moving speech at the 8th annual Celebration of Women in Healthcare hosted by the Kenneth Schwartz Center on May 26. Mrs. Kennedy spoke eloquently, but more importantly authentically from her heart, when she reflected on her caregiving journey and the healing power of compassionate communication between providers and patients. Click here to read an article about the event.

Musical House Calls

The Longwood Symphony, an orchestra made up of physicians, medical researchers and health care providers, broke with their tradition of playing a large concert and instead took their music to their audience -- their patients. Dr. Lisa Wong, pediatrician and president of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra stated,“To launch this year, instead of having a concert in Jordan Hall, where we usually play for 800 to 1,000 audience members, we thought we’d bring it to the patients". This year the healer musicians were broken into several groups that spread out over Boston, visiting health centers, hospitals and elder care centers in an initiative called LSO on Call: Health and Harmony in the City. They reached a similar number of audience members yesterday, playing for a total of about 800 in nearly two dozen small concerts.
To read more about this great group of healing musicians, click here for the Boston Globe article.

Letting the Patient Call the Shots

Today's New York Times has an interesting article written by Dr. Pauline Chen exploring what we, in the healthcare system, really mean by "patient centered care". Does the definition of patient centered care shift if we are in the role of patient or healthcare professional? In the article, Letting the Patient Call the Shots, Dr. Donald Berwick, president of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge, Massachusetts, suggests that, “ We would all be far better off if we professionals recalibrated our work such that we behaved with patients and families not as hosts in the care system, but as guests in their lives.” Radical changes in our healthcare system will need to occur to allow this to happen, are we ready for such changes? What do you think?

Quality of Life

Thank you to those of you who alerted me to a wonderful documentary series which aired on WBUR in Boston last week. It is beautifully written and produced, an informative view of the dilemma over end of life care in this country. The title of the documentary is Quality of Death, End of Life Care in America: Inside-Out. As I listened to the documentary I felt a more appropriate title might be Quality of Life instead of Quality of Death because even as patients, families and healthcare providers prepare for death, life continues. Perhaps our emphasis on what we DON'T want done at the end of life overshadows what we DO want done? I read an interesting article recently that proposed changing the terminology of D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate) to A.N.D. (Allow Natural Death). Is there is a difference in your mind between these two statements, or do you feel it is only semantics? This is difficult topic to wrestle with but one that is growing in prominence in the health care world as we confront a rapidly aging population as well as staggering healthcare costs.