Patient-Centred Care: Is It In the Cards?

Submitted by Mark Wahba on March 20, 2012 - 18:09

Kids used to collect sports trading cards. These cards had pictures of players on the front, and some data and a few biographical snippets on the back. They made the otherwise remote and unknowable stars a little more accessible and a little more human. Maybe trading cards would be useful a back-to-the-future innovation in health care. At each new patient encounter, the staff member would hand the patient one of their cards. All the doctors, nurses, support staff, everyone. The card would have the staff member’s first name and photo on the front with a little write-up on the back.

Improvement on Ice: Curling and Quality Improvement Science

Submitted by Mary Smillie on February 5, 2012 - 10:15

Curling is a game of strategy, execution, adaptation, and precision. It is a series of discrete decisions and events, all of which are highly visible to both players and fans. It is perfectly designed for deconstruction and analysis. Often called "the roarin' game," at MASH we think of it as a continuous PDSA cycle. High-level curling has a lot to teach high-quality health care.

Feta Compli: In Praise of Dullness

Submitted by Mark Wahba on January 25, 2012 - 10:36

Underdog Greece stunned the soccer world by winning Euro 2004, the sport's second-biggest tournament. How did they do it? With suffocating defence and an arguably tedious style. Purists scorned the approach, but what the Greeks lacked in entertainment value paled beside the stunning victory. Solid, preventive health care that addresses both individual and population needs lacks the glamour of high-tech medicine, but it, too, can be hugely effective. Perhaps health care should take a lesson from Greek soccer: winning beats interesting any day.

Do Clinicians Need Spring Training?

Submitted by Steven Lewis on December 6, 2011 - 18:29

Baseball has spring training and no one is exempt from the drills, the repetitions, the fine tuning, the repetition. It is not just a rite of spring; it is fundamental to the pursuit of excellence. Baseball assumes that skills are impermanent, mastery is fleeting, coaching is essential, and practice never ends. Health care assumes that skills once achieved are permanent, mastery comes with time, coaching is unnecessary, and practice is for students. Baseball has it right.

Opening up medical education: Is this the first Open Access video series of Grand Rounds?

Submitted by Tarek Loubani on November 11, 2011 - 22:30

This week, the Division of Emergency Medicine in London, Ontario, Canada, released our first video from grand rounds. There's really nothing new about the idea - well-done archives of grand rounds videos truly are a dime a dozen. But - to my knowledge - we are the first program to make the videos available under an Open Access, Creative Commons license (in our case, By Attribution, ShareAlike).

What Joe Paterno Could Have Learned About Disclosure from Health Care

Submitted by Steven Lewis on November 11, 2011 - 13:44

Penn State University is aflame, its President, two senior officials, and sainted football coach Joe Paterno out the door after 46 years. A former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, is under indictment for multiple sexual assaults against young boys over a 15 year period. Health care used to be renowned for its insular culture of secrecy and inability to do right by its victims. It has come a long way. I would like to think that health care CEOs would have responded more honourably and more swiftly than Paterno to a similar crisis.

What Health Care Can Learn from Skating

Submitted by Steven Lewis on November 8, 2011 - 12:07

When performance measurement fails, bad things happen. Figure skating learned that lesson the hard way. Its performance measurement system has evolved from an arbitrary and often corrupt gong show to an increasingly reliable (though still imperfect) science. That it has made progress despite its rigid and hidebound culture is all the more reason for health care to learn from its travails.

You're Either Drafting or Pulling: What Health Care Can Learn From Cycling

Submitted by Alan Cassels on November 1, 2011 - 13:43

Alan Cassels, Drug Policy Researcher and Adjunct Professor, Human and Social Development, University of Victoria,

Most people think cycling, and by that I specifically mean road racing, is an individual sport. They look at the superstars, people like 7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and think: "that guy is awesome!" Which is true, but only partly.

How to contribute to the MASH blog

Submitted by Steven Lewis on November 1, 2011 - 13:27

The MASH blog is intended as an open forum that welcomes contributions from anyone interested in making meaningful analogies in sports and health. We will shortly be set up for you to submit content directly to the moderator through the Open Medicine site navigation tools. But for now, contributors should submit their content via e-mail to:

Coming to Terms with Performance Data: My Hero, Duke Snider, Was Not As Good As Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays

Submitted by Steven Lewis on October 18, 2011 - 06:45

Emotional attachments often lead people to overstate the ability and performance of people close to them. Duke Snider, the great Brooklyn Dodger center fielder, was my first sports hero. I thought he was the greatest. He was excellent, but he was only the third best center fielder in New York, after Mantle and Mays (or Mays and Mantle). Coming to grips with the incontrovertible statistical evidence on the relative performance of one's heroes is part of growing up. It's the same in health care: viewing performance through rose-tinted glasses can be harmful to one's health.