Books To Consider


Originally published 12/20-22/2010 on Running A Hospital.

Brian’s Note: Paul has published 4 posts with book recommendations, all thoughtful and terrific. With his permission, I’ve republished, condensing the posts here into one.

Notes from the Waiting Room, Managing a Loved One’s End-of-Life Hospitalization was written by Bart Windrum. I met Bart during the patient advocacy session we helped organize at the recent IHI Annual Forum. He starts by explaining the genesis of the book:

This book is not abstract. . . . I write from my involvement as a son who watched both patients die. . . . In both my parents’ cases, their dying process was rife with unnecessary grief. I don’t mean the grief that accompanies loss. . . . I write as a layperson for lay people. I expose what causes much of the needless shock (and resulting grief) that can accompany any hospitalization and end-of-life experience.

Chapters include: Be an effective personal representative; Making effective declarations; Care and communication in hospitals; family involvement in hospital care; forecasting and ethical support.

Transforming Health Care, by Charles Kenney, tells the story of Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, which has become famous as the hospital in America that has most dramatically endorsed the Toyota Lean Production System. The senior administrative and medical team, led by CEO Dr. Gary Kaplan, started the process with a visit to Japan and then designed a hospital-wide program to bring greater efficiency to many aspects of the institution’s operations. They entitled their program the Virginia Mason Production System and made significant improvements in many aspects of health care delivery.

Lois Kelly, author of Be the Noodle, Fifty ways to be a compassionate, courageous, crazy-good caregiver, starts by noting:

This morning, approximately 50 million people, mostly women, woke up to a job they never wanted and have no training for — caring for a loved one who is dying.

This little book then provides pithy lessons and helpful suggestions to those in this situation.

Social media practitioners are very familiar with the work of David Meerman Scott. They and social media wannabees will find Real-Time Marketing and PR a valuable tool. He notes, “Awareness of information as it happens, in real time, can give you an enormous competitive advantage – – if you know how to use it.” A few chapter headings will give you a sense of what’s up in this book to help you get there:

Speed versus Sloth: Dispatches from the Front
Laying Down Some Real-Time Law
Real-Time Attitude
Tap the Crowd for Quick Action
Business at the Speed of Now

In The Communicators, Leadership in the Age of Crisis, Richard Levick, with Charles Slack, offers forty rules that can help leaders deal with the instantaneous nature of information flows and the challenges and opportunities that emerge from that environment. From rule number one (“Learn to accept death”) to number 40 (“People want to be inspired”), there are stories and insights that are engaging and helpfully provocative.

If there is anyone better suited to editing a volume called Lessons Learned in Changing Healthcare . . . and How We Learned Them than Paul Batalden, I am hard-pressed to know who that might be. A dozen knowledgeable and self-reflective practitioners relate the stories of their progress in improving health care, creating a tapestry of thoughtful observations and lessons.

And finally, two books about which I have written before. I hesitate to say that I have saved the best for last, but these two are truly excellent, moving, and inspirational. (And I would say that even if the authors were not friends and if they hadn’t blessed me by allowing me to write prefaces for both!)

e-Patient Dave deBronkart’s Laugh, Sing, and Eat Like a Pig is a great story about his experience with kidney cancer and his journey to patient empowerment and collaboration with his doctors.

Monique Doyle Spencer’s The Courage Muscle, A Chicken’s Guide to Living with Breast Cancer is an often humorous account of things to expect and how to prepare for this disease.

Both books are perfect for friends or family members going through all types of cancer (not only kidney or breast cancer), and also for their caregivers.

Brian’s Note: To this excellent list, I’d add Siddartha Mukherjee’s spectacular The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, reviewed here.

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