- The Virtual Visits program has reached an exciting milestone of completing over 100K virtual visits! The Virtual Visits team is thrilled to be able to provide access to high quality care for patients and families and look forward to further expanding the program’s reach and impact.
- As travel has been restricted in many parts of the US, many patients are opting for an Online Second Opinion during COVID-19. Please feel free to recommend the Online Second Opinion program to families outside of New England who require an expert opinion.
- Boston Children’s Hospital has recently launched a partnership with InfiniteMD, a Boston-based company that offers expert second opinions to 3 – 4 million users.
- IDHA is partnering with Kyruus, a leader in provider search, scheduling and data management solutions. Boston Children’s Hospital will be utilizing Kyruus’ platform to offer a robust online provider search and new patient scheduling.
Innovator Spotlight: Naomi Gauthier, MD
Dr. Naomi Gauthier is a practicing Pediatric Cardiologist and the Director of the Cardiac Fitness Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is the founder of Collective Well, a program for pediatric patients with Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs) designed to help them “Find their Possible” through a combination of physical fitness and positive mindset training. The program exists to promote the idea that children with CHDs should not feel constrained physically or mentally by their disease. Dr. Gauthier is also an Instructor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
Can you talk a little bit about Collective Well and how that idea developed?
It’s been a 20 plus year journey but the bones of Collective Well came out of clinical care and working with patients at a community level as a pediatric cardiologist. One patient stands out the most, a nine year old child with a significant heart condition. He was talking to me about activities and sports and he said, “you told me what I can’t do, but what about what I can do?” We spend a lot of time in medicine focusing on the negative rather than the positive or the many things these children can do. This shift in my own thought process helped shape the concept of Collective Well and what we’re doing in cardiology (and pediatrics) to assess where kids are and how we can do more.
I wanted to look at this problem in two ways. The first aspect of Collective Well is conceptual: to define pediatric specialty medicine in a positive lens instead of as a disease state. For instance, in my specialty we tell patients from birth that they’re “defective” (have a heart defect), so how can they climb out of that hole? Is the language we are using in medicine unwittingly limiting children? No one goes into third grade and says I hope you don’t fall back into second grade; the expectation is to progress! In pediatric specialty medicine we do not approach it that way – yet.
The second aspect is more practical. How do we go about making this change? The current programmatic aspect of Collective Well is a Cardiac Fitness Program that links physical activity with a positive mindset training so children can achieve self-confidence. Boston Children’s has the right people, thinkers, and resources and we have developed the program materials, curriculum, and a proprietary fitness app called Ignyte to tie this together. In the end, the result is to have them believe “yes you can!” or, as we say in our motto, “Find Your Possible.”
What lessons have you learned through your work as a clinician & innovator that you think other people in the industry should know about?
You sometimes don’t realize how your passions can intersect. I spend a lot of time teaching fellows – and during that time I have found a great passion for understanding what people are curious about. It’s not always about getting the right answer but about bringing curiosity forward and following it to find way more solutions to problems. I’ve been very fortunate to see this in my patients; when they find their possible, it helps unravel where we have implicit biases about hidden perceptions on limitations.
I struggled for a while to figure out if looking toward the positive in medicine was innovative, but the innovative part is breaking down barriers and thinking about issues from a whole new lens. We need to look at things and see where we had an invisible limitation that made us look at something one way when we should have been looking at it from other perspectives. That is the exciting part of innovation: looking at things through different dimensions.
Why do you think innovation is important at Boston Children’s Hospital and beyond?
It is absolutely critical. The changes in society and technology need to be applied to pediatrics, where a small investment in health now can have large payoffs over a lifespan. Pediatrics is inherently an innovative field; children, and thus pediatric medicine, is all about growth, change, and reaching potential. For instance, in my field, we don’t fix children just so their heart is better, we work to make sure the child as a whole is better. I am passionate about making sure the patients and the faculty and trainees at Boston Children’s, have that perspective from the beginning.