Solving health care problems, one podcast at a time
As a fourth year medical student, Kwadwo Kyeremanteng, MD, FRCPC, fell completely in love with Critical Care Medicine the moment he entered an emergency room at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.
“I was like, man, this is it for me,” he remembers. “It has all the things that I was looking for in medicine. You work as a team. You don’t know what’s coming through the door, you need to think on your toes, you need to lead and sometimes inspire.”
But as he progressed throughout his career, Dr. Kyeremanteng, who splits his time between the Montfort Hospital ICU and Ottawa Hospital’s Critical Care and Palliative Care team, noticed inefficiencies within the health care system which had a negative impact on patients. He remembers a young man who relied on physiotherapy to improve his lung function. A long weekend delayed his treatment and he developed complications that landed him in emergency. His recovery was set back weeks – all because of missing one short appointment.
Tackling inefficiencies, together
Dr. Kyeremanteng knew there was a way to save health care dollars and improve patient outcomes. To leverage these solutions, he founded the Resource Optimization Network (RON), an Ottawa-based group comprised of physicians, nurses, health economists and researchers, who collaborate on projects to tackle systemic health care problems, such as optimizing treatment.
“If you pulled in a bunch of clinicians and asked how much a treatment costs, most have no idea,” Dr. Kyeremanteng explains. “But often some treatments are less costly and even better than others. So it’s about increasing awareness of the different options available. And this group gives us a broader perspective and lens to see these issues in a new light.”
One RON project he’s particularly proud of is evaluating the effectiveness of adding an intensivist to a care unit for patients with neurological conditions. Results of the study, which compared patient outcomes before the arrival of an intensivist to the unit and afterwards, showed a reduction in patients’ length of stay and a cost savings of $2,687 USD per patient in a system increasingly strained to provide neurocritical care.
Creating a platform for discussion
The network wanted a platform to discuss issues around improving health care delivery, current events and personal experiences in medicine with the greater public – which led to the launch of the Solving Healthcare with Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng podcast.
Just over a year old, the podcast boasts over 100 episodes, with guests sharing how they approach challenging problems in health care such as Mamta Gautam, MD, FRCPC, explaining how COVID-19 has disrupted medicine’s risk adverse culture and is forcing the system to fail faster”; Steven Tucker, MD, discussing research in improving cancer outcomes via nutrition with impressive results (no relapses); and how Alex Munter, CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), has used the pandemic to innovate how the institution delivers care to thousands of families. Other popular topics discuss tips on improving physician sleep, exercise and mental health habits.
He describes the response to the podcast – from the health care community and the public – as tremendous.
“It’s changed my life,” says Dr. Kyeremanteng, explaining how the podcast has led him to be regularly interviewed by CBC and CTV, as well as being appointed to CHEO’s board of directors. “We’ve helped raised over $65,000 to support local youth through the podcast. That level of impact wouldn’t have happened without this platform.”
As he tends to patients in a city in the grips of another wave of COVID-19 infections, he says his positive perspective compels him to continue seeking and championing solutions in health care.
“Despite being a crazy situation, there has been a ton of good to come out of it,” he says, mentioning the public’s increased awareness and actions to help vulnerable people in communities, and the appreciation of the work of front-line workers. “There are signs we can be optimistic about in terms of getting through this.”
Want to collaborate with the RON team on projects? Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listen to the latest episode of Solving Healthcare with Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng.