Our Story (and much, much more!)

What is Tupeak Hope?

  • The Tupeak Group (of which Tupeak Hope is a part) was formed to provide education, support, and clarity in how individuals and groups of both patients and healthcare providers can work together, in a partnership role, to facilitate clear goals, effective communication, and better outcomes for all involved.
    • While you may readily imagine how a patient could have a “better outcome”, by becoming healthy again, it may not be quite so clear how a provider could achieve a better outcome.
    • Let’s take a look at how a provider could have a “better outcome”?  The answer to that is one you may not like if you are a patient, but please bear with me on this, as I try to explain.  Let’s look at some simple facts about healthcare as it is in today’s world.
      • Healthcare is, now more than ever, a business.
      • Providers are the salespeople, customer service agents, and nearly every other job position you could imagine in a retail environment,
      • Patients are the consumers, who are looking for quality service at a reasonable cost, with the best possible outcome.
      • As in any business relationship, the businessperson(s) and the consumer(s) must both practice the art of communication in a clear, and effective manner. Often this must be accomplished merely in a matter of a few minutes, which makes it even more of a necessity to be able to communicate not only clearly and effectively but quickly. During a recent long-term hospitalization, I questioned my care team why they were always so rushed to get out of my room and move on.  The answer may well astound you, I know it shocked me and was nearly unbelievable!
        • Their answer was quite businesslike, and matter of fact, although if you paid real close attention to the one party to the conversation, you could tell that they were sincerely bothered by the facts revealed in their reply.  The fact is that they are allotted, or as they explained it, they are allowed, only one hour to perform rounds in the morning. On that particular day, and during nearly the entire length of my three-week stay, that meant they had to see seventeen (yes you read that correctly, 17!) patients in that hour. I will let you do the math and ponder the details and what exactly that says about the state of healthcare in our country on your own for now, as I plan to address this in more detail in a later post.
        • But suffice it to say, that this means that both parties must communicate clearly, concisely, interpret the issue, and devise and implement a solution, all in that few moments they may actually get to spend with that patient.
        • This is why I, and many of my colleagues I discuss these matters with, feel one of the most important ways to work within this business model of 17 patients in an hour, is effective communication. Again, I will delve into exactly how to accomplish this in more detail later, in many many posts, but suffice it to say, if you can’t communicate what you need, you will not get what you feel you deserve,
      • One way to accomplish this, for both parties, is through education. I’m not speaking of education in a formal classroom setting, for this is not something that is taught in medical school, or in your everyday K-12 education curriculum. This is a specialized form of education that has been created by the experiences of the founder of Tupeak Hope, who is well versed in both sides of the fence as it were.  He has experienced being a healthcare provider himself in a variety of settings, and yes, has even been what he refers to as a “professional patient” for many years now.
        • This gives him unique insight into both sides of the equation, and this special insight allows him to create educational materials that serve both parties equally with the goal of expedient, quality outcomes.
  • Tupeak Hope was formed a few years ago while attending a healthcare conference with, at the time, some of my providers, who have since become respected and valued colleagues.  We have spoken together at such events as FMEC (Family Medicine Education Consortium) in Arlington, Virginia in 2015.
    • This was the first time a patient / lay person has ever been invited let alone allowed to speak to the physicians and other healthcare professionals attending this conference.
    • Our materials, though brief in presentation, were so powerful, that they were met with the graciousness of the conference facilitator to permit us to run over our allotted time, actually doubling the time we were allowed, after which we were met with a thunderous standing ovation!
    • Afterwards, I realized that those professionals who so diligently pursued me to speak at the conference in the first place, actually knew what they were talking about when they kept trying to convince me that I had something valuable to offer.
      • Since then I have met with many sets of interns of varying professions, through the same original providers, whom I am honored to now call my colleagues, as well as my friends!
      • One thing that rings true regardless of how many groups of interns I meet with, is the fact that none of them had any idea what they were getting into as far as how “business-like” medicine has become.  There is no class they can take that prepares them to be proficient in customer service, communications, or seeing seventeen patients in an hour, let alone how to do each of these items properly!
        • Each group tells me how they’ve been prepared to deal with many medical crises they may see, and how to manage them.  Bur nowhere is it explained to them how to be a salesperson, manager of a team, customer service representative, technical support, or any other job role you could imagine other than their chosen field in medicine.
  • As a result, myself, and those I work closely with, have taken it upon ourselves to educate those with whom we come in contact, how to become all those roles, while still performing the skills they spent many years learning and perfecting.  This applies to both interns, as well as professionals who have been doing their job for years or even decades.  The more people we encounter and enlighten through our educational methods, the better healthcare becomes not just for one or two of us, but for all of us.
    • Let’s think of this in super simplistic terms for a moment.  Let’s say your physician is a mechanic of sorts, of the human body.  Mechanics talk to each other, sometimes even bounce ideas off one another.  They also share their experiences. Therefore when we affect one individual agent in this business of healthcare, we affect many more than we may ever know. For when we enlighten one person, the next time they have coffee with a colleague, they may well share what they have just learned.
    • As we enlighten and educate these professionals, young or old, we not only improve communication between patients and their caregivers, but we restore a little bit of humanity back into the healthcare profession each and every person we come into contact with.  Most people went into a “caring profession” such as medicine because they wanted to help people.  However, I would predict that few if any, had the slightest clue how mush medicine has become a business with such stipulations as seeing a set number of patients in a given time frame, let alone seventeen in an hour. Further, I would also highly suspect that nowhere in their education, had they been prepared how to see that many patients in that short of time, while still making sure each and every patient had the following conditions met
      • That the patient knew without a shadow of a  doubt that the practitioner not only actually listened to their complaints and treated them appropriately
      • That the practitioner actively showed the patient that they cared about the outcome of their health, and their quality of life
        • Mind you I’m not saying they need to sit and hold our hand each and every visit, for that is both unreasonable, and often unnecessary.  However sometimes it is perfectly okay, and even welcomed.
          • Maybe when giving a terminal diagnosis, or learning of the patients loss of their spouse, etc.
          • Many times, all a patient needs is to feel that what they are experiencing is validated, and not only normal, but okay to feel
    • One example we often use in teaching the point that patients are not just a diagnosis, rather that they are human beings, and should be treated as such is is shown below. Nearly all the time this scenario is posed to a clinician with prescribing power, the answer is to prescribe an anti-hypertensive agent. While this may in fact be warranted, the first and foremost answer should be to find out why.  I often use the old saying English teachers drilled into us in school. Let me explain
      • The scenario is a middle aged person (male or female doesn’t matter) arrives in your office for a complaint of headaches. They have been relatively healthy their entire life, (since you gave birth to them many years before, when a general practitioner could still do that), save the normal cold, or occasional bout of indigestion or other minor normal complaints.  Your exam reveals everything is normal except the patients blood pressure which is actually quite high, and concerns you.  What do you do?
        • The normal answer, is to prescribe an anti-hypertensive medication.  I say that while this may, in fact, be necessary, this is not the answer I am looking for first and foremost.
        • The answer I am looking for is “Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How?”  By answering these questions you restore just a little bit of humanity to medicine and this particular patient’s life, because you learn that they just lost their spouse, who they’ve been with wince their sophomore year in High School.
        • While they may in fact need a medication to lower their blood pressure to a safer range, what they need even more is the clinician as a person, who takes the time to elicit the answers to the questions above. Maybe you refer them to a support group as well.  Maybe all you do is sit and talk with them about the five stages of grief as detailed by Elizabeth Kubler Ross many years ago.  You take the time to educate the patient on what these stages are so they know what to expect.  Further you explain that everyone works through the stages in their own time, and even in there own way.
        • I am so sure of this that I would hazard to guess that after taking the time to sit and talk with said fictitious patient, and explain that not only is what they are feeling normal, but what they can expect in the coming days, weeks, months, or maybe even years, that if you were to take their blood pressure again, (put away the DynaMap and do it manually!), that it would be lower than it was when you first encountered this patient.
          • And for the record, I said to put away the DynaMap or whichever automated machine your prefer to use to take a blood pressure, because sometimes, just the temporary physical contact of taking the patient’s blood pressure, while make a difference. Never underestimate the healing power of human touch.