This summer, I have the incredible opportunity of interning at Ariadne Labs’ Serious Illness Care Program. Ariadne Labs is located in Boston, MA and it is an organization made up of 150+ physicians, researchers, and analysts who pride themselves on improving outcomes of patients in health systems. Their work is oriented around quality improvement using universal guides to provide clinicians in order to minimize errors in care. They utilize a system known as the Ariadne Arc to design, test, and spread scalable solutions in health care.
For example, these solutions include a conversation guide for Serious Illness Care clinicians, a surgical checklist for the operating room, and a BetterBirth checklist to improve the efficiency of the birthing process.
My specific tasks through this internship will change every 2-3 weeks, however for this first stretch, I am working on sorting qualitative and quantitative data from the implementation of years past. A major focal point of this organization is measuring whether the implementation of programs has benefitted the health systems that use them and improve patient outcomes in the long run. In 2018 and 2019, Ariadne Labs implemented the Serious Illness Conversation Guide to 22 different health systems and trained clinicians to engage in better conversation with their patients through the guide. My job is to help measure whether this implementation was successful for these health systems and gauge whether there was a lasting impact of improved conversation between clinicians and patients. Specifically, I am tasked to sort the 200+ pages of data into a meaningful way to produce a manuscript of our implementation outcomes. So far I have successfully sorted through almost half of the data and will work towards finishing the other half by early July. The impact of my work will allow the organization to gauge whether our guide is able to be used in healthcare settings and if any changes need to be made to the implementation process.
Second, I am also a member of the Patient Guide project team where, upon approval from the Institutional Review Board, I will be able to take notes and even facilitate interviews with Serious Illness patients and families on the “What Matters Most Workbook”. The purpose and impact of this project are to ensure that clinicians are aiming towards patient-centered care and listening to the goals and values of each patient before jumping to treatment options for serious illness. As of now, I am in charge of formatting the workbook so it can be more user-friendly and ensure there are no technical issues with filling out all the important information which is the basis for each interview.
As I embark upon this journey of improving patient outcomes one step at a time, I have three goals in mind. I would like to tackle the issues in health care delivery and how to create scalable solutions to combat inequalities. I hope to prepare for patient interaction as I work my way up to medical school and beyond. This opportunity positions me to prepare for conversations with patients surrounding their medications and diagnoses and generate a human-centered design process for this patient guide. I hope to be more aware of methods of conducting clinical research and tying it to creating notable solutions in healthcare while expanding my network of healthcare professionals. Lastly, contributing to the development of the quality of life for patients battling serious illness would be a tangible goal that I could attain by being a part of this transformative research initiative.
— Ayush Thacker, Experiential Learning Fellow 2021